Smithfield is seeing heightened occupier demand, with very limited prevailing vacancy

INTRODUCTION

Smithfield has a rich tangible history, making it an area of increasing appeal to occupiers, especially those from the tech industry. The origins of Smithfield can be traced to when the area emerged as an agricultural trading post located at the outskirts of medieval Dublin City, where cattle was primarily traded. The establishment in the late 1700’s of what would later become The Old Jameson Distillery gave the area a then high-value land use in addition to later bestowing the square with an immediately recognisable landmark with the construction of the 185 feet tall Chimney Viewing Tower in 1895. The evolution of the square to its modern state can be traced to 2005 with the completion of a 1 million sq ft mixed-use scheme, which included a substantial cultural use element, making it one of the largest ever property projects the city has witnessed.

When granting permission for this development, planners stipulated an increase in the provision of the ground retail space in order to augment the overall vitality of the area. However,
following the property crash, much of this space remained runlet resulting in a large quantum of vacant retail space fronting the square, detracting from Smithfield’s appeal. It is only recently that Smithfield has come into its own with all of these retail units now reserved. In addition, Smithfield – together with nearby Stoneybatter – has developed a reputation within Dublin for its diverse café and restaurant offering which caters to an international residential population with over half of Smithfield residents born outside of Ireland, the second highest ratio of any electoral division in Dublin. This international cohort harbours little ambition for suburban living with Smithfield’s central location allowing easy access to the rest of the city via the LUAS and the two on-site Dublin Bike stations. Finally, the presence of two hotels in addition to the The Lighthouse Cinema and the soon to be reopened Old Jameson Distillery Irish whiskey tourist attraction, is seeing the area realise the planners’ original vision for a vibrant self-contained community. Office occupiers place high-value on this lifestyle offering
as it gives them a competitive edge in attracting and retaining staff.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Looking to the future, the construction of a new Family Court along Hammond Lane will see the last large site in Smithfield being developed with completion due for 2020. The new DIT campus at Grangegorman will see 23,000 students added to the area, with two major student housing schemes being developed in the immediate Smithfield vicinity along Brunswick Street North and Church Street. The activity at Grangegorman is part of a wave of development that is taking place in Dublin’s north inner city which will benefit Smithfield as an office location. Along with the continued growth of the north docklands as the city’s new office district and the retail revitalisation of O’Connell Street, the planned redevelopment of the nearby Victorian Fruit Market will truly connect Smithfield with the city centre when complete. Plans for the Fruit Market will see it transformed from a wholesale focused market to a consumer retail market which will draw footfall from the city centre to Smithfield. In addition, there are numerous sites surrounding the market which make it one of the last remaining areas in the city centre suitable for large scale revitalisation with potential for significant development.

 
OFFICE OCCUPIER PROFILE

There is currently approximately 1 million sq ft of standing office stock in Smithfield, with the occupier market dominated by the legal, state and tech sectors. The legal sector’s presence has grown from Smithfield’s geographical positioning between the legal institutions of The Four Courts and The Kings Inn to the east and The Central Criminal Court and Blackhall Place to the west. Prominent law office use within Smithfield includes The Bar Council, The Law Library and The Law Society. The resultant high presence of barristers in Smithfield also feeds a demand for own private own door units not seen elsewhere in the city. Much of the state occupations are also legal in nature with The Department of Justice and Equality and the Court Services both having a substantial footprint in Smithfield. Other state occupiers include the Motor Tax Office, HIQA, The Road Safety Authority, Dublin City Council and the Irish Film Classification Office. The area’s burgeoning reputation as a tech hub was cemented when Workday took 179,000 sq ft in 2015, with their presence aiding the creative ecosystem that had already been developing there. Brownbag Films – who have been in Smithfield for over eight years – signalled their continued commitment to the area by opening a 30,000 sq ft animation studio in 2016.

Office rents in Smithfield currently range from €25 psf to €35 psf. With the last remaining quantum of modern space in Smithfield currently under negotiation at Block B2, Smithfield Market, rents are set to grow further from this level and are likely to reach €40 psf by year-end. With rising rents and effectively zero vacancy, new office development will begin to come online to serve tenant demand. Linders of Smithfield have secured planning permission for two substantial office buildings located on either side of the square at the LUAS end; Haymarket will likely be redeveloped first and will deliver 66,400 sq ft followed by the redevelopment of the Distillery Building, which will deliver 180,000 sq ft.

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