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LONDON-The British government has launched the phased sale of its run-down 3.8-million-sf estate in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Civil Service has published an invitation for expressions of interest in the euro 2.2-billion ($2.6-billion) outsourcing contract in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The single contract will involve the private sector buying and leasing back operational property, disposing of redundant buildings, refurbishing retained property and managing the facilities on those properties leased back to the government. Effectively, the government is outsourcing estate, building and facilities management to the private sector.

The advertisement states that the Department of Finance and Personnel will brief interested parties in Belfast on Dec. 8. They will then have until January 23 to submit preliminary proposals. Officials will then select three or four prospective partners to draw up more detailed proposals. The aim is to award the contract by the end of next year.

UK-based Land Securities Trillium and Mapeley are expected to prepare joint bids with Irish investors and developers. The portfolio comprises 56 freeholds totalling 2.2 million sf and valued at euro 295 million ($346 million).

Lease liabilities on 24 properties totalling 830,000 sf will also be transferred. A further 122 buildings could be transferred in phase two. The properties include 28 core offices in Belfast and the regions; 35 Jobs and Benefits Offices; and 17 Belfast offices that the civil service wants to vacate. But the estate needs extensive refurbishment and will cost the partner an estimated euro 155 million ($133 million) in annual running costs. The successful bidder will also be required to develop a new 50,000-sf office on the Stormont Estate as well as take responsibility for the facilities management of the entire 3.8 million sf estate.

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