Merchant Square is a £70m office scheme comprising the redevelopment of existing buildings (Oyster and Royston House) by creating two additional floors, extending into the rear courtyard and installing a new glass and steel facade. The completed scheme will comprise eight floors of office accommodation (c.200,oooft2) over an extended entrance lobby and ground floor retail and restaurant units.
The existing buildings on the site were designed by McAlister Armstrong & Partners and built 1974 – 1975 (planning ref: Z/1973/0163). Oyster House (formerly Ferguson House) was built as a 7-storey office building at 12 – 26 Wellington Place and was linked to Royston House, also 7-storeys, at 34 Upper Queen Street. Both buildings comprise ground floor commercial units. Home restaurant opened at Wellington Place in May 2012 and Stix & Stones restaurant opened at Upper Queen Street in May 2014. A Centra convenience store occupies the corner unit.
Oakland (FRO) Ltd, Like Architects and Turley submitted a planning application (LA04/2016/2045/F) in September 2016 proposing to refurbish and extend the office accommodation within Oyster and Royston House. The application was approved in January 2017. A second application (LA04/2017/0461/F) submitted in February 2017 proposed to extend the 7th floor, construct 1no. additional floor and reconfigure the ground floor to form to 2no. retail units and new entrance lobby. The application was approved in August 2017. A third application (LA04/2017/2333/F) submitted in September 2017 proposed two additional floors, reconfiguration of lift core to rear, modifications to courtyard elevations, removal of existing facades on Wellington Place and Upper Queen Street and replacement with glass and steel facade. The application was approved in March 2018.
Merchant Square received a £20m loan from the NI Investment Fund. The senior debt facility was awarded to Oakland (FRO) Ltd and is in addition to funding from Oakland and Fairfield Finance.
The project’s official website provides further information: www.merchantsquarebelfast.co.uk.
Felix O’Hare & Co. Ltd commenced enabling works during May 2018.
McCormack Demolition carried out the strip-out and demolition works.
PwC announced in November 2018 that it will become the anchor tenant with approximately 2,000 staff relocating to Merchant Square during summer 2020. PwC previously operated from Oyster House as Price Waterhouse but following a merger with Coopers & Lybrand in 1998 the firm relocated to Waterfront Plaza in 2001.
In July 2019 PwC confirmed they have signed a 20 year lease for all of the 200,000ft2 office accommodation across nine floors.