Optimism about prospects for Galway's property market is reflected in the restart of building work on two of the city's major new mixed-use developments, Gerry Barrett's Bonham Quay and JJ Rhatigan's Crown Square.
The optimism is partly based on the expansion of activity at some Galway-based operations of med tech firms during the Covid crisis. The first two of the Crown Square office blocks will be completed in the last quarter of 2021 and Willie Dowling of CBRE, who is the letting agent, says it has already signed heads of agreement for 1,394 sq m in one block and is in talks for the letting of an entire 5,574 sq m second block to one occupier.
Paul Fitzmaurice, property director at JJ Rhatigan & Company, added: "We are also in active discussions with tenants in relation to a number of larger office requirements."
The balance of the scheme, including a hotel, 288 residential units and an additional 26,000 sq m of office space, is due to be completed throughout 2022.
Patricia Staunton of Cushman & Wakefield also says that four parties are interested in taking some of the 12,000 sq m of offices at the city centre Bonham development.
Such occupier interest follows the shortage of office space that had prevailed before Covid. At that stage office availability had fallen to 16,850 sq m and a Cushman & Wakefield report said this equated to a very low 5.5pc vacancy rate at the end of March.
Of the available space less than half was in the city centre and most of it was in small floor plates. Including the suburbs, only six units offered floor plates greater than 1,000 sq m and floor plates of more than 2,000 sq m were not available.
"There is still significant confidence in the demand and requirement for office accommodation in the city which these schemes will go a long way towards meeting," says Rosemary Casey of agents TWM.
In the city centre retail area, the William Street section has benefited from Vodafone's occupation of the former H Samuel store.
"Combined with Rituals and Skechers this greatly enhances the profile of this stretch of retail," she added.
She also believes that the departure of fashion retailers Next, Warehouse and Oasis will create opportunities for a fresh retail profile in that area on Edward Square.
Their landlords are expected to compete for retailers who are still seeking space.
The former Debenhams outlet at Corrib Shopping Centre is also expected to attract interest.
She says it is difficult to be definitive on where rents will fall as landlords may be reluctant to set a tone on rental levels in this uncertain market.