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Deloitte seeks to convert Belfast office space into new coffee shop

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The firm — one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ accountancy practices — is moving into new offices at The Ewart at Bedford Square, Bedford Street.

The Ewart consists of a refurbished listed building at the historic Ewart’s warehouse, with a newly built glass tower behind it.

Deloitte has now submitted two planning applications for a change of use from offices to a coffee shop at the ground floor of 17A Bedford Street, which is part of the old warehouse. Deloitte will occupy that building as well as floors in the glass tower.

A new coffee shop in Bedford Street could be a welcome addition as existing eatery Harlem may close to make way for a new hotel.

Bedford Way submitted a planning application for the 88-bedroom The Dean hotel at 34-44 Bedford Street in March.

A spokesperson for Deloitte said: “We are excited about our new office space in the restored Ewart building at Bedford Square.

“In line with many of our Deloitte offices, the plans for the ground floor will include communal areas, café facilities, individual and collaboration workspaces, as well as event spaces.”

While Deloitte has itself submitted the planning applications, it’s understood it will appoint a separate operator to run the coffee shop. Social enterprise NOW Group, which runs Belfast City Hall’s Bobbin coffee shop, is understood to be in the running.

The Ewart is an example of the higher-end offices which have become more common in Belfast in the past few years as companies give up dated offices in favour of plusher space.

And in an era of hybrid working, companies have hoped that having high-end offices will encourage staff to come in.

The £85m Ewart, which was built by Co Tyrone construction firm MRP, has set out to draw tenants by offering panoramic views and a top ranking for sustainability.

There are also smaller lifestyle additions, such as a heated cubicle for drying wet outdoor clothes, along with showers and lockers.

The Ewart involved the renovation of the old linen warehouse and the construction of the 17-storey, 180,000 sq ft tower block connected to the warehouse.

Deloitte is taking 80,000 sq ft in total over five floors.

Insurance company Axa, recruitment firm MCS Group and wealth manager Evelyn Partners occupy one floor each in the tower, while law firm Tughans has two after relocating from its old premises at Marlborough House.

It’s understood the building is now 80% occupied, with floors seven to nine still available to rent at £26-£27 per square foot.

Last year, restaurant Flame announced it was relocating to the The Ewart from its old premises on Howard Street.

In January, CBRE NI warned that up to 75% of Belfast’s office stock may become obsolete by 2030 due to new energy legislation.

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