Island’s tallest building sold

The Obel Tower was built at Donegall Quay in Belfast in 2005
The Obel Tower was built at Donegall Quay in Belfast in 2005

The tallest building on the island of Ireland, Belfast’s Obel Tower, has been sold to an undisclosed buyer after just one month on the market.

Reportedly purchased for “significantly more” than the £20million asking price, the sale included the landmark 85-metre, 28-storey tower along with a separate apartment block and a seven-storey office block.

The Donegall Quay property was put on the market at the beginning of March.

It had been described by property consultants Savills as an excellent asset management opportunity that, if fully let, can produce a gross income of over £2.2 million per annum.

The main Obel building comprises 233 apartments while the smaller, eight-storey residential block contains 49 apartments – most of the 282 homes owned by private landlords.

Leading law firm Allen & Overy has its Northern Ireland base in the commercial centre.

When the apartments were originally offered for sale in 2005, many were sold off plan to buy-to-let investors.

Whenever the property market crashed, sales slowed considerably, leaving many of the apartments empty.

Director of investments at Savills Northern Ireland, Ben Turtle, said: “We expected the Obel to generate significant interest when we brought it to the market and that is exactly what transpired.

“It has taken just over a month for the sale to complete, which highlights the growing popularity of Belfast and Northern Ireland as a location for property investment.”

Mr Turtle added: “Investment property transactions in Northern Ireland reached £175m last year – more than the combined total of transactions since the start of the downturn. However, with economic conditions improving, and investor confidence in Northern Ireland rising, we expect the figure to be much higher this year.”

Chequered history of site

The Obel skyscraper was built at Donegall Quay on Belfast’s waterfront in 2005 for £75 million.

In 2007, some studio apartments went on the market for £90,000 while the penthouses had a price tag of around half a million pounds.

The tower has attracted some adverse publicity and was shortlisted as one of the ugliest buildings in the UK.

In November 2012, administrators were called in as contractors’ debts spiralled.