Dear Barry

Ask Barry Image

Area snapshot

For this month's Area Profile, I'm taking a look at the Ormeau Road that resides on the other side of the bridge. Have a quick read of the 'upper' Ormeau Profile to refresh your memory on that half of this increasingly-trendy part of Belfast.

It's a very diverse area, with students, families, ethnic minorities, young couples and professionals all living happily together.

I think it's fair to say that the gentrification we see on the upper part of the road hasn't fully reached the lower Ormeau Road, but I think it's coming.

There are a handful of smart-looking outlets, a posh indie coffee shop and although it's a mixed bag - with plenty of takeaways and no-frills corner shops - the area is undoubtedly thriving.

There are some undeniably down-at-heel streets and micro-areas - parts of Fitzroy Avenue are looking particularly neglected - but there are also some smart-looking apartment blocks and developments, tree-lined avenues, and most of the social housing complexes are finished to a very high standard indeed. 

Just like the upper part of the road, Lower Ormeau also offers riverside living, and indeed, handy and picturesque links to the city centre and Gasworks via the Annadale walkway.

Coupled with good public transport links, this makes it a smart and affordable choice for everyone from young professionals working in the thriving business and financial district near Central Station, to those looking for/starting jobs in one of the many new city centre hotels opening their shiny doors.

There are exciting development opportunities underway (like this one - even though it hit the headlines recently for a controversial fire), and a lot of scope for more.

Smart money is on good quality apartment blocks, but I think a really savvy buyer would be looking towards commercial opportunities too.

There is a lot of good quality office and commercial space changing hands here at the moment and now could be a good time to get ahead of the curve before property prices begin to climb further as housing demand and prosperity grows.


word on the streets

Hatfield Street - Farnham Street - Rutland Street - Balfour Avenue

With their traditional 2- and 4-bed terraced houses offering little in the way of outdoor space, but comfortable living and city centre and University convenience, this little pocket of streets is popular with a wide range of tenants, from up-and-coming professionals, to young families, to students who have tired of the hedonistic Holylands living experience.


Cooke Street - Shaftesbury Avenue

Cooke Street is a wide street filled with pleasant semi-detached homes and roomy terraced houses, giving it a slightly suburban feel in places. It's walking distance from The Gasworks and financial district, so families and young corporate hotshots will always be happy to take property here. Properties will need to be finished to a fairly high standard but once settled, tenants are more likely to be low-maintenance.


Dromara Street - Artana Street - Balfour Avenue

Dromara Street is a really pretty row of terraces near the riverside, which leads on to Artana Street and Balfour Avenue. Similar to my thoughts on Annadale in the other Ormeau piece, these are properties with easy access to the city centre and (mostly) river views. They are popular with renters but I think they could be a smart capital investment also.


roomy suburban-feel terrace

30 Shaftesbury Avenue

A 4-bed terrace over 3 floors, this would have plenty of room for young professional housemates, a (possibly more mature) student let, or a family rental. 


Own an icon

Havelock House

The iconic pink building that housed UTV's studios until this year is on the market for a reported £3.5m. It's 59,000 sq ft on a 1.78 acre site, so the imagination just reels with the possibilities. It's a stone's throw from the Gasworks, city centre and business district so apartments are a possibility. The sizeable building next door, Portland 88, is entering phase 2 of its release of 88 luxury 1, 2 and 3 bed apartments, so it could be a good gauge for the demand for this type of accommodation.


Royal opportunity

Queen's Quarter Housing, 145-153 University Street

Currently a 36-bed hostel, this property has a huge amount of potential. A business investment, a commercial rental, a change of use to add to a residential rental portfolio - so many possibilities to explore.