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ALG advises on sale of Merchant Square

Corporate law firm A&L Goodbody (ALG) has advised Oakland Holdings on the sale of Merchant Square, located in the heart of Belfast city centre, to an overseas investor.

Led by Tracey Schofield, Head of Property at ALG’s Belfast office, the £87m sale represents one of the largest office investment deals outside of London in the past 12 months and provides a significant boost of confidence to the Northern Ireland investment market at the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Merchant Square

Merchant Square provides 230,000 square feet of office space over nine floors, with a complementary mix of retail and restaurant tenants on the ground floor. The offices were leased in their entirety to PricewaterhouseCoopers in July 2020 – representing its largest office outside of the city of London, with space for up to 3,000 staff.

The majority of the ground floor tenants have occupied the building since before redevelopment works began in May 2018 and, having supported their landlord through the project, renewed their leases on completion of the works.

The project has involved advanced logistical planning, management and collaboration, as well as the unforeseen challenges brought about by the onset of the pandemic last year. Against the odds, the redevelopment works achieved practical completion at the end of June 2020.

Schofield described the deal as a key highlight in her career.  “This transaction epitomises what can be achieved through vision, determination and hard work,” she said.

“We acted on the acquisition of this property in 2007, then a 1960s style collection of buildings known as Ferguson, Royston and Oyster House. We are proud to have been part of the team who have helped the property evolve into one of the most innovative, digitally advanced and sustainable redevelopment projects seen in Northern Ireland.”

The building has been awarded an “excellent” BREEAM rating and, once the fit-out works are complete in the coming months, will feature 30% of amenity and wellbeing space, two floors of collaborative working space as well as unique features such as “Spanish Steps” open staircases linking numerous floors.

ALG’s property, banking and construction teams acted on all elements of the redevelopment, refinancing and letting of the building and are delighted to have supported Oakland Holdings in creating an outstanding building for Belfast city centre through to this ultimate landmark sale.