Facebook sets its sights on Sandyford office space

Social media giant believed to have signed lease for 15,939sq m at old Microsoft site

 

After a number of recent record-setting office deals by the technology sector in Dublin City, including Facebook’s Ballsbridge letting and Salesforce’s planned new offices on North Wall Quay, it appears that Sandyford may be next in line to capitalise on the TMT (Technology, Media & Telecom) sector’s seemingly endless office space requirement.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft are amongst the tech giants believed to be seeking substantial amounts of office space in Sandyford, where the latter two already occupy offices alongside a proliferation of other high-profile companies.

Facebook for its part is understood to be leasing all 15,939 sq m (172,121 sq ft) of office space at Nova Atria South. The building is one of two adjoining office blocks, previously known as The Atrium when it was occupied by Microsoft and other companies. The blocks were acquired by international investor Blackstone in 2014 from a consortium of private investors for a figure reportedly in the region of €100 million. Nova Atria South has been substantially refurbished and incorporates 340 car parking spaces and 120 bicycle spaces.

Facebook already occupies offices in Grand Canal Square and at East Wall, and its rumoured lease at Sandyford, which would be its first move out of Dublin city, comes mere months after the company’s announcement that it has leased 80,825sq m (870,000sq ft) of space in Ballsbridge, reported to be the largest ever letting in the State.

Various expansion options

While Facebook declined to confirm on the Sandyford deal, a spokesman for the company stated that its “Irish operations will be growing across all our teams” and that the company is “looking at various expansion options to best facilitate this and future growth”. Industry sources indicated that the company has already signed the lease, having reserved the space some time ago.

Close to Facebook’s planned Sandyford offices, Google is believed to have selected The Hive on Carmanhall Road as its preferred choice for further expansion. The tech giant already occupies a large quantity of office space in the Sandyford Business District area at the Chase building and the Blackthorn Building, in addition to its rapidly expanding city-centre property portfolio centred around its headquarters on Barrow Street.

Google was reportedly considering a handful of offices, but is understood to have ruled out a number of options, turnings its focus to The Hive, which features about 6,782sq m (73,000 sq ft) of space along with 117 parking spaces and 96 bicycle spaces. Neither Google nor the letting agent, HWBC, had any comment in relation to the deal, which is understood to be at nascent stages.

Major refurbishment

British property developer U+I and Colony Capital acquired the block, formerly known as Ballymoss House, for €13.65 million in 2016 and the building is currently undergoing a major refurbishment that is set for completion in mid-2019.

Finally, Microsoft may have only opened its new 34,000sq m (366,000sq ft) purpose-built campus last year at South County Business Park, dubbed One Microsoft Place, but it is believed that the company has already identified a requirement for further office space in the Sandyford area as its expansion continues.

Sandyford witnessed a surge of activity in the lead up to the Celtic Tiger’s crash, when developers such Landmark Enterprises and the Cork-based Fleming Group planned large-scale commercial and residential projects. While some of those projects were delivered, little progress has been made in the last decade.

The significant uptake of office space by companies in Sandyford should serve to further promote the development of new residential schemes. Ires Reit, the State’s biggest private landlord, recently secured planning permission for a 14-storey mixed-use building incorporating 84 apartments at the junction of Blackthorn Road and Blackthorn Drive; however, this has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Ires separately has plans for 428 rental units nearby at Rockbrook, while Avestus Capital Partners has recently acquired a site with the capacity for more than 500 rental apartments.