Google cancels plans for new office in Dublin

8 Sep 2020

Entrance to Google office in Dublin. Image: Robson90/Depositphotos

The Dublin office market has been shaken by Google’s decision not to go ahead with the lease of a new development for 2,000 employees in the docklands.

Google has confirmed that it will no longer be leasing The Sorting Office to expand its footprint in Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

Bloomberg first reported that Google’s plan to lease the seven-storey building in the capital city would not go ahead, and this was later confirmed by Google to RTÉ News and The Irish Times.

A spokesperson said the decision followed “much deliberation” but did not offer any further detail. We are committed to Ireland and continue to invest in our Irish operations,” the statement added.

Google reportedly entered talks to rent the state-of-the-art new build last October. So-called because the site used to be an An Post sorting office, The Sorting Office was intended to house up to 2,000 employees.

Located on the corner of Cardiff Lane and Hanover Street East with more than 18,000 sq m of space, architects Henry J Lyons intended The Sorting Office to transform the area into “an enhanced public realm” with its development. The build includes more than 1,000 sq m of ground-level retail space, including room for a café, demonstrating the small local economies that centre around major office developments.

Remote work sees drop in Dublin office rental

Dublin’s docklands is already home to two buildings occupied by thousands of Googlers, as well as regional headquarters for Facebook, Airbnb and HubSpot.

However, staff at many companies have been largely working remotely since early 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Europe, with Google among those with work-from-home policies extending into 2021. In May, CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that while some employees would return to office-based work during the summer, this would not top 15pc of the company’s workforce.

Developed by Marlet and then sold to Singaporean real-estate investment trust Mapletree Investments for €240m in June 2019, The Sorting Office promised a flexible, spacious design with wide, open floors and landscaped outdoor spaces including a roof garden. However, with the impact of Covid-19, the need for offices and the design of workspaces is seeing a complete rethink.

Had it gone ahead, this would have been one of the biggest property deals in Dublin in recent years. Instead, office rental in the city faces a troubling future with CBRE reporting Q2 of 2020 as having the lowest office take-up ever recorded in the city. The commercial real estate agency said that only 9,885 sq m of office space was rented in the second quarter of the year due to transactions cancelled or put on hold amid the pandemic and social restrictions.

Google Dublin. Image: Robson90/Depositphotos

Updated, 9.08am, 8 September 2020: This article has been updated to include additional comment from a Google spokesperson.

Updated, 11.06am, 8 September 2020: This article has been updated to clarify that Marlet was not involved in the Google deal, having sold the property to Mapletree before discussions on the lease began.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.