U+I chief 'encouraged' by demand for Dublin
There continues to be strong interest in Dublin office space from US and Canadian companies, according to Arlene van Bosch, the newly-appointed development director for the capital at UK property group U+I.
She said she's "quite surprised and encouraged" at the level of interest she's seen from American and Canadian companies interested in establishing satellite offices in Dublin.
"Some of the companies are projecting two or three years ahead," said Ms Van Bosch, who has relocated from U+I's London office to Dublin as the group expands its presence here.
"It's interesting to see the scale of spaces that some of the tech companies are taking," she added, pointing to confirmation from Facebook last week that it's going to lease AIB's headquarters in Dublin to transform it into a campus for as many as 9,000 employees eventually.
The social media giant employs about 4,000 people in Ireland, mostly in Dublin.
"It's a staggering amount of accommodation space, but clearly they believe that there's a great opportunity here," added Ms Van Bosch.
She said that office space brought to market by companies such as U+I has to be "world class".
U+I focuses its development on three cities: London, Manchester and Dublin.
In Dublin it has developed offices including Donnybrook House, which is currently available for lease, and is delivering a Grade A, 73,000 sq ft office called The Hive in Sandyford. That's due to be completed by the end of next summer.
It's also redeveloping Carrisbrook House in Dublin in conjunction with US investment fund Colony NorthStar.
Ms Van Bosch said that U+I is keen to expand its presence in Dublin and is "not wedded" to office developments.
"We will look at all opportunities that come up," she said.
She declined to say how much capital U+I has earmarked for Dublin. U+I is a stock market-listed company, with a £286m (€328m) market capitalisation.
She said the company is keen to work on public-private partnership projects with local authorities or publicly-owned land holdesr.
"Maybe on risky sites, or contaminated sites, we could help unlock potential that maybe local authorities wouldn't have the appetite to do," she said.
Ms Van Bosch said she believes public-private partnerships can also play a role in alleviating the housing crisis.
"It's clear that there's so much undeveloped land in public ownership in Dublin and in other parts of Ireland, so there's a real opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together," she said.
"It's not just about building a mass of housing. It's about creating sustainable communities."