One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, Custom House, has been acquired by family-owned Northern Ireland investor Straidorn Properties.
Straidorn, which is the property investment arm of local businessman Neil McKibbin and his family, acquired Custom House from Watford-based property management company Mapeley for an undisclosed sum.
Located at Custom House Square, the Grade B+ listed building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, one of Belfast’s leading architects and built by D & J Fulton between 1854 and1857.
Split over four floors, Custom House has an internal floor space of 58,000 sq. ft, which is primarily used as office space.
Straidorn intends to refurbish and modernise the open plan office accommodation after current tenant HMRC moves out of the building in April next year, but also wants to preserve and enhance the building’s heritage features during any renovations.
While the building has undergone phases of remodelling throughout its history, it has a number of period features, such as its original staircase, extensive lobby areas and a number of decorative carvings, including three figures symbolising Neptune, Mercury and Britannia and others representing Manufacture, Peace, Commerce and Industry.
Neil McKibbin, director of Straidorn Properties, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to buy one of Belfast’s grandest buildings and to bring it back into local ownership. Custom House is of huge historic and strategic importance to the city and for our business, this is a long-term investment which demonstrates our confidence not just in the future of Belfast’s office market but in the city itself.
“We invest in projects we can identify with and where we know we can add value. Despite the current economic climate, Belfast is still a very attractive location for inward investment and we believe it will continue to attract global occupiers who will contribute to the ongoing growth and development of the city.”
He added: “Custom House is located close to the City Centre, the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast Harbour’s City Quays and we look forward to working with other city stakeholders to help create opportunities to link up those parts of the city and add to the overall vibrancy of Belfast.”
Straidorn has previously invested in transforming Flax House on Adelaide Street, regenerating a former linen mill which had been unoccupied for more than 30 years into a fully let, grade-A office space. Victoria House on Gloucester Street has also received significant investment through Mr McKibbin and his partner Wayne Sullivan’s holdings in recruitment company VanRath.
Custom House is surrounded by some of Belfast’s oldest and most historic buildings, including the Albert Clock, Corn Exchange and McHugh’s Bar.
It is next to Custom House Square, which has undergone refurbishment in recent years following investment from Belfast City Council. The Square is one of Belfast’s most popular outdoor leisure and event spaces, facilitating concerts such as Belsonic.
Straidorn was advised by Riddell McKibbin in the purchase of Custom House.
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