While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to fuel commentary in relation to the future of the office, the reports of its much-anticipated demise don’t appear to have made it as far as Cork.
Having commenced the construction in October 2018 of its largest city centre office project at Penrose Dock without any pre-lets, developer John Cleary's JCD Group, has reached a major milestone with over 75 per cent of the 250,000sq ft scheme now leased. Penrose Dock opened its doors earlier this month with the first four occupiers moving in: Grant Thornton; Sophos; Remitly and Minelab.
October meanwhile will see three large publicly-traded US tech companies completing their office fitouts in the following order: Qualcomm, the scheme's single largest occupier, Cloudera and Varonis. Another large US tech company, expected to be announced in the coming weeks, is taking two floors in Penrose One while one of Ireland's leading law firms, Matheson, will be occupying the fifth floor also in Penrose One from early next year.
Penrose Dock is set on a prime 1.8 acre site fronting onto the River Lee and consists of two Grade A office blocks. Penrose One extends to 80,000sq ft over seven floors with column-free floor plates while Penrose Two is 170,000sq ft over nine floors with floor plates of 20,000sq ft. Construction on the scheme started in October 2018 and despite the site being closed for seven weeks due to the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, practical completion was achieved by main contractor, PJ Hegarty’s and its subcontractors in late August.
Designed by Wilson Architecture, the development incorporates the rejuvenated 12,000sq ft Penrose House, dating back to 1824. Other amenities at Penrose Dock include an 8,500sq ft privately-operated gym, spa-standard utility blocks in the basement with lockers and showers, a health food café (Naturally Nourished), and a fully-equipped 2,000sq ft meeting/conference suite with an outdoor roof terrace providing panoramic views of Cork city and harbour.
In addition, other companies including Remitly and Minelab (who have already moved in) have also signed up to JCD’s new serviced office offering “Flexi” workspace. This new offering will be owned and operated by JCD and gives both new and existing companies the ability to rent a fully-serviced turnkey space without the requirement to sign a long-term lease. JCD has allocated 28,000 sq ft for this use and currently has 10,000sq ft of Flexi space available.
The Penrose Dock scheme forms a key part in the transformation of the North Quays into a new economic hub within Cork city. Centred around Kent Station, the new district complements South Quays and the development of One Albert Quay and Navigation Square. Based on its current list of occupiers, Penrose Dock would in normal times have over 1,200 people going to work there on a daily basis. This number is likely to grow to over 1,800 based on current forecasts, making it the single busiest multi-tenanted office campus in Cork city.
JCD Group chief executive John Cleary says: "We are delighted to confirm the list of occupiers moving to Penrose Dock. They offer a great mix of global technology and professional services companies. A number of these lettings have concluded in the past number of weeks, despite the difficulties brought about by Covid-19, which is both an endorsement of the scheme and a demonstration of the importance companies place on best-in-class offices for their staff."
Mark Smyth of CBRE said: “Penrose Dock is a standout development for Cork and Ireland and in my opinion would not be out of place in any major city in Europe or the US. There are currently 165,000sq ft of tenant fitouts underway at Penrose Dock, which is comparable in scale to anything happening in Dublin right now.”
Peter O’Flynn of Cushman & Wakefield said: “Although Covid-19 has made everyone look to the future and realise more flexibility is required around our working environment, our experience through working on Penrose Dock and with our Global Colleagues in Cushman & Wakefield confirms the great majority of companies will continue to see the office as a core part of creating their culture and enhancing the employee experience.”