Northern Ireland’s trouble-hit Lisburn Square shopping centre — built fourteen years ago for £23m — has been sold for just £2m. Its new owner, property investor Marcol, says it intends to turn the piazza-style development into a prestige restaurant and leisure venue.
The Lisburn city destination was placed on the market by administrators BDO after former owners Valto Ltd collapsed in 2013. The developer was owned by two of Northern Ireland’s richest men, brothers Thomas and Francis Jennings.
Although the exact sale price has not been confirmed the 90,000 sq ft site has been on the market with a £2.25m price tag. It’s thought the condition of Lisburn Square and its below 50 per cent occupancy rate held the deal closer to £2m.
Several high street names have remained at the 29 unit development including Argos, Next and Subway. There are also a number of kiosks and 210 underground parking spaces.
Mark Steinberg was a Marcol co-founder back in the 1980s. “This deal is the first of what we hope to be several acquisitions in Northern Ireland and we are excited by the prospect of regenerating Lisburn Square,” he explained.
“We see it as an opportunity to successfully enhance the scheme using our extensive knowledge and in-depth experience of other leading retail and mixed-use schemes across the UK.” London-based Marcol has earned a reputation for “creating and realising maximum values through hands-on, active asset management”.
“The location, adjacent to Bow Street (pictured), which hosts many popular high street retail names including Tesco, Boots, Cafe Nero and Superdrug, means footfall is already incredibly high in this area. Our aim is to ensure we complement this, creating a must-visit destination that will work cohesively with the existing retailer provision in the city,” he added.
Part of that vision, inspired by Belfast’s St Anne’s Square, is to transform the site into a “mixed-use scheme, attracting lifestyle and leisure interests”. Marcol has confirmed that several leading restaurant companies have already expressed an interest in opening outlets in Lisburn.
“It will be interesting to see what the plans are,” commented Eamonn Murphy of Belfast-based Murphy Surveyors. “It could end up being the next St Anne’s Square,” he said. “It has failed as a retail destination, whether that’s due to a lack of interest or the economy.
“It could, however, become a leisure destination for the city, that’s the market that is exciting at the moment. As well as a retail offering there could be room for restaurants and bars, a health club, office and a small budget hotel — proving there is still life in Lisburn.”