Commercial property agents Lisney have been appointed to sell the historic Belfast Telegraph building on the city’s Royal Avenue. Declan Flynn, the managing director of Lisney in Northern Ireland, confirmed the building, and its one acre site, will be marketed for sale at the beginning of October.
The 124 to 144 Royal Avenue location, next to the Cathedral Quarter and the new Ulster University campus, features the well-loved, listed frontage of the building, and its famous clock.
The decision by Belfast Telegraph owners Independent News & Media to sell the site marks the end of 145 years of history for the printing and publishing of the Belfast Telegraph at the site.
The publishing business will relocate to another location in the city centre.
Mr Flynn said: “It’s rare that a building of such prominence comes on the market.”
And Mr Flynn added the site could lend itself to a number of uses.
Its listed frontage could be used for a hotel, he said, while the remainder of the site could be built upon for both offices and student accommodation.
The site was capable of hosting 100,000 sq ft of office accommodation, 100,000sq ft of student accommodation, and a hotel.
Mr Flynn added: “Any purchaser will have their own ideas as to how they should redevelop the site.
“It is one of the most significant development sites to come to the market in central Belfast in the last decade and should generate interest from local, UK and Republic of Ireland investors and developers.
“Someone may also wish to revitalise the ground floor for food and beverage for restaurant and nightlife — look at the success of the Cathedral Quarter on its doorstep.
“I would be surprised if the buyer didn’t utilise that wonderful and rich history as it’s an iconic part of Belfast.”
The present building is five storeys high — and Mr Flynn said that subject to planning, a new developer could build upwards.
The nearby new Ulster University will be between eight and nine storeys when complete. Mr Flynn said the building was coming onto the market at a time of increasing activity.
He said: “We have had more transactions in the last six months than in the previous two to three years — we’ve had Windsor House, River House, Middleton Building, selling at or above the asking price, all in recent months.
“The market is a lot more attractive now, and it’s a prime time to bring this building to the market.”
INM (NI) managing director Richard McClean said staff were saddened at the prospect of leaving.
He added: “We have had difficult news to give to our printing staff in the last two weeks with the closure of our printing facility on Royal Avenue. However, the site is just too big to see the continuation of the publishing business alone. The sale now presents a great opportunity to a developer given its great location.
“The listing of the front facade of the building gives us great reassurance that a potential developer will preserve some element of the Belfast Telegraph’s history in its use.
“We have worked here for a long time but we do look forward to finding new, more appropriate modern office space.”
Caption: The Royal Avenue site of the Belfast Telegraph goes on the market in October