McAleer & Rushe buys Belfast Telegraph building after clinching two major new deals

Artists impression of McAleer & Rushe's proposed student beds for Queen's
Artists impression of McAleer & Rushe's proposed student beds for Queen's

Cookstown building firm McAleer & Rushe has confirmed its acquisition of the 130-year-old Belfast Telegraph building.

Although it is not yet clear what the firm intends to do with the site, there has been some speculation they might convert it into a hotel or student accommodation. But a spokesperson has said, a decision is yet to be made.

The news comes off the back of two major new contracts to build student accommodation in Belfast and Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth scheme, which was announced just last week, is worth £52m to the firm and will see them design and deliver a 1,000 bed student accommodation scheme in the southern English city with Threesixty Developments.

It involves the conversion of local landmark Zurich House to provide 405 bedrooms, and the construction of a purpose-built, 595 bedroom student accommodation block extension with a newly landscaped public boulevard that opens on to a park.

The project is due to complete in summer 2017, whilst a £70m contract with Queen’s University Belfast to provide a further 1,200 students beds is expected to complete in summer 2018.

This development will see two prime Belfast city sites converted into a mixture of studios, cluster bedrooms and mixed use student accommodation.

Both projects are under consideration by Belfast City Council Planning Service.

But the firm said it is hoped a positive planning outcome can be reached to enable the proposals to rapidly advance to the construction phase.

A 476 bed scheme on McClintock Street will form part of a mixed-use student and hotel scheme, while the proposal for College Avenue will consist of 680 cluster bedrooms and 95 studios.

McAleer & Rushe Property Director, Stephen Surphlis said: “This is one of the most significant property development deals in Northern Ireland for many years. It follows on from the success we had with Belfast City Council to develop a 100,000sq ft office for it, at our site on Adelaide Street.

“The projects, which are estimated to generate around 550 jobs during the construction phase and 75 long-term jobs, will also make a significant contribution in the on-going regeneration of Belfast City Centre.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston said: “As an anchor institution in the city, this substantial investment again demonstrates the commitment of Queen’s to the development of Belfast as a learning city. This much needed student accommodation within walking distance to Queen’s, city centre amenities and transport links, will ensure the university continues to attract the brightest local, national and international students to study in Belfast.”

Speaking about the Portsmouth deal, Martin Magee Managing Director, McAleer & Rushe Contracts UK said: “Our new partnership with Threesixty is leading to further opportunities in development and construction for both companies in the UK and Ireland.”