McAleer & Rushe and Dunloe Ewart, announce further £100m development plans of the Bedford St site in Belfast

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McAleer & Rushe and Dunloe Ewart have announced plans for the development of their Bedford Street site in a £100m scheme that will include the new Invest Northern Ireland (“InvestNI”) headquarters and a further 325,000 sq ft of speculative accommodation incorporating an office tower, conversion of the listed Ewart building and double basement car-parking.

The 1.2 acre site, which is jointly owned by McAleer & Rushe and Dunloe Ewart, presently houses a surface car park and a listed, former linen warehouse which it is proposed will be converted to a hotel or commercial space. The Masterplan for the whole site has been approved by the planners to include all of the accommodation in a range of buildings located around an exciting central courtyard and culminating in a new tall building which will act as a visual buttress to Windsor House. The development will create a completely new image for Bedford Street and will be a landmark in the City

Barry Gardiner MP, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, yesterday confirmed McAleer & Rushe and Dunloe Ewart as preferred bidders for the design, construction and management of Invest NI’s new head quarters. Cookstown based McAleer & Rushe will be responsible for the design & build element of the contract.

The project to provide c.100,000 sq ft of purpose-built office space for InvestNI will be the first major office development to be constructed in Northern Ireland under the Public Private Partnership initiative. Commenting on their appointment as preferred bidder following a rigorous selection process, Eamonn Laverty, Managing Director of McAleer & Rushe, remarked:-

“We’re delighted to have been selected as the Government’s preferred bidder and view working with Government under the Public Private Partnership as an exciting new business challenge that we hope will create further opportunities for the development of our business. The decision to locate the InvestNI headquarters on our site reaffirms Bedford St as the commercial heart of Belfast and the core of the economic and business district.”

Paul Henry of property consultants, Osborne King, who managed the bid on behalf of McAleer & Rushe and Dunloe Ewart added:-

“The decision to build these new offices under the Public Private Partnership initiative is unprecedented in Northern Ireland and will undoubtedly act as a template for future government office requirements. Whilst having the best site close to the city centre was a factor in influencing the final selection of preferred bidder, in terms of design and layout, the actual building marks a radical departure from a fairly conventional, cellular layout that has characterised office accommodation in the past, replacing it with an open-plan layout aimed at creating a more dynamic and truly collaborative working environment.”

Work is due to start on-site imminently and it is expected that the initial InvestNI project will be ready for occupancy by September 2005.