Belgians buy Luxembourg’s office market crown jewel

A growing number of real estate investors is forced to consider expansion abroad, real estate group Alides claims

The Espace Kennedy B is one of the undisputed crown jewels of the Luxembourg real estate market. As of today, it is property of Belgian real estate investor and developer Alides. The six-story-high office building is located in the centre of Kirchberg’s financial heart, the Luxembourg business district, and is considered to be an absolute prime location. The location is so popular that companies who want to rent in the area, have to register on a waiting list first. For Alides, the third largest private investor in real estate in Belgium, this is the second big international acquisition in just 18 months. The real estate investor says it is forced to invest its capital abroad, because the Belgian economy and professional rental market are barely growing.

The Espace Kennedy B is one of the buildings at a very much desired location in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The property accounts for more than 5,835 square metres of office space and is adjacent to Avenue John F. Kennedy, the main street that connects Kirchberg with the city centre of Luxembourg. The building is located in the heart of a lively neighbourhood, with more than 70 restaurants, shops, bars, a cinema complex and a large park. It is quite remarkable that the property will now be owned by Belgians.

Despite heavy competition from different international investors, the Ghent real estate investor and developer Alides sealed the deal and recently bought the building for more than 50 million euros.

“With the Espace Kennedy B we have acquired a fenomenal building at an extraordinary location. This deal perfectly fits into our growth strategy: investing in great locations with a long term potential. With that in mind, Luxembourg is one to keep an eye out for.”

Sophie Maes, Director Alides Lux SARL

Prospective tenants put on hold

Meanwhile, the first prospective tenants, among which mainly multinationals and international players, are already lining up for the Espace Kennedy B. Given the top notch location, with the highway and airport only a stone’s throw away, it is not surprising that many companies have to wait years before they are able to settle in the building.

“Today about five companies are on a waiting list to rent office space in this building. Companies really want to set up office in this property, not in the least because this type of setting attracts talent. In times when we are facing a true war on talent, that is no insignificant detail.”

Sophie Maes, Director Alides Lux SARL

Luxembourg versus Brussels

Until recently, Alides solely invested in Belgium. But now the real estate investor is onto his second big acquisition abroad in less than 18 months. In March 2017 Alides bought the old shipyards ‘Imperial Shipyards’ in Gdansk, Poland, along with an investment partner. Now it very consciously chooses Luxembourg. And the real estate group is clearly not the first one.

“A growing number of investors are forced to take their capital abroad. The returns in Brussels are under pressure and the risks are higher. This brings the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg into the scope.”

Rikkert Leeman, Director Alides Lux SARL

The vacancy rate in Brussels’ professional rental market is now roughly 9 percent. The vacancy rate in Luxembourg is on average 3.9 percent. On top of that, people are paying record prices, claims Alides. Nowadays, the cost for a top location in Luxembourg - also called ‘prime rent’ - is between 500 and 600 euros per square metre per year. In a similar neighbourhood in Brussels the prime rent is dropping to 250-300 euros, all the while costs keep getting higher.
The value of properties in Kirchberg, on the other hand, increase about 5 percent each year. In the meantime Brussels is facing barely any value gains.

“The economic and financial climate in Brussels continues to lag behind countries like the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. At this moment, it is not Brussels but Luxembourg that benefits most from the Brexit, thanks to its agility. Brussels suffers from a competitiveness problem. This is something that urgently needs to be addressed.”

Rikkert Leeman, Director Alides Lux SARL

Alides is is a real estate investment and development company, part of the Belgian Ghent based Group Maes, founded in 1892 and 3rd major Belgian private real estate holding in 2017. Alides is specialised in real estate investments, asset management and real estate developments and has extensive knowledge and experience with complex real estate projects. The activities are structured around five types of assets: offices, residential buildings, industrial real estate, hotels and healthcare centres. Alides manages a mixed real estate portfolio with an estimated value before acquisition of Espace Kennedy B of more than 350 M EUR, a balance total of almost 400 M EUR and equity of more than 210 M EUR.

Rikkert Leeman

Director, Alides Lux SARL

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