Office development within Belfast’s City Centre has received a significant boost as The Ewart in Bedford Street reaches a major construction milestone with the building’s structure ‘Topping Out’ ahead of its targeted opening in January 2022.

One of the most important and historic architectural landmarks on Belfast’s skyline, The Ewart at 17-storeys high, is the final phase of developer MRP’s Bedford Square development, constructed by Design & Build Construction Partner McAleer & Rushe, which includes the Invest NI Headquarters.

A £85m 210,000 sq. ft Grade A listed office project, The Ewart is set to accommodate 2,500 people when fully occupied. Construction began in January 2019 with 300 jobs created throughout the construction phase of The Ewart building.

MRP are long term investors in the City and have completed a number of other large developments including the nearby Maldron Hotel and Queen’s University’s’ student accommodation Elms BT1 and Elms BT2, all constructed by McAleer & Rushe.

While the original sandstone warehouse dates back to 1870, a two-storey link extension will connect to a new modern office tower creating highly efficient and flexible floorspace. The panoramic glazing offers spectacular views across the City and there is also an extensive landscaped plaza area to enrich the environment adjacent the double height reception entrance. The building will have a BREEAM Excellent rating and a Wired Score Platinum Certification making it one of the most environmentally friendly and digitally connected offices in the City.

Set in the heart of the central business district, The Ewart is only a short walk from City Hall, main transport hubs, shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. The finished offices will be part occupied by Deloitte NI with a further 124,000 sq ft for tenants seeking high quality workspace in the prime office core of the City.

Stephen Surphlis, Managing Director at MRP said:

“Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, the team and our project partners have worked to deliver a landmark development creating one of the most sophisticated and desirable office spaces in the City. The contemporary building will offer a flexible, dynamic and sustainable working environment and with many businesses currently reviewing their return-to-work strategies, we have begun to see an increase in the number of tenant enquiries over the last few months.

“As Belfast continues to recover from the pandemic, we are confident that this very significant and important commercial project in the heart of the city will further support its regeneration, delivering a modern working environment for Northern Ireland’s workforce of the future.”

Jonathan O’Neill, Senior Director at McAleer & Rushe said:

“The Ewart is a vital part of Belfast’s historic Linen Quarter and we are proud to be restoring and conserving the building respectively and sustainably to bring it back to its former glory and once completed, the new build section to the rear will be the tallest commercial office project in Belfast city centre. We are thrilled to be a part of this significant development for the city and to have remained on programme following the difficulties of the past 18 months is a huge testament to the monumental efforts of all the teams, consultants and supply chain involved.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl spoke about the city centre development and said:

“The city centre of Belfast is one of the most important places in Northern Ireland. A city centre which is attractive, safe, with high levels of employment and investment can provide the basis for a prosperous and successful city and surrounding region. The Bedford Square Development Project will contribute to the success of Belfast as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The dynamic, sophisticated and modern office building will inject a new lease of life into the city centre, aid recovery and in turn create jobs and prompt further investment and long-term economic growth. Our city centre vision- The Belfast Agenda outlines that we work every day to make Belfast the city of choice for investment opportunities and I am delighted that this project will deliver a world-class working environment for future generations.”

Robert Ditty, Executive Director at CBRE NI, letting agent on the scheme said:

“Belfast Offices has built a strong reputation for being a market leader in a number of sectors to include cybersecurity, fintech, professional Services and creative industries. The City also continues to benefit from having one of the lowest operational and occupational cost bases when benchmarked against other regional cities. The Ewart will offer some of the best quality office space in Belfast City Centre and this factor coupled with all the environmental, health and wellbeing credentials sought by new office occupiers makes the building a compelling proposition for tenants”