Sunday, 14 January 2007

Will South Dublin allow Liffey Valley shopping centre to double in size

Story in the Business and Money section of The Sunday Times by Mark Paul on the possible expansion of Liffey Valley shopping centre.

THE property tycoon Owen O’Callaghan is in talks with South Dublin county council to double the size of Dublin’s Liffey Valley shopping centre. It brings the total of new shopping centre space planned for the greater Dublin area to 4m sq ft. O’Callaghan hopes to receive planning permission before the end of the year. The Cork-based developer wants to build a €500m extension to the centre with work to begin on the 180-acre site in 2008.

Liffey Valley is already one of the biggest shopping centres in Dublin, with retail floor space of about 320,000 sq ft. O’Callaghan said he hopes to add at least the same amount of shopping space again and is working on a masterplan for the site with council officials.

“We hope to reach a deal with the council in 2007 and if we do, then work will begin after Christmas,” he said. “The discussions are going well but it is still too early to say what the outcome might be. But we are hopeful we will get the go-ahead for the scale of development we want.”

The Liffey Valley expansion will form part of an explosion of retail space in the Dublin area. Expansions are planned at the Arnotts development in the city centre, Stillorgan shopping centre, the second phase of Dundrum shopping centre and up to 1m sq ft of new shops at The Square in Tallaght.

Liffey Valley was built at Quarryvale, in west Dublin, in the mid-1990s and originally had its size capped.

However, the land was re-zoned for a new “town centre” development by the council in 2004, paving the way for the latest planned expansion.

Treasury Holdings, owned by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett, has also been seeking permission for a similar-sized development on nearby land at Balgaddy, but its plans have been shot down by An Bord Pleanala. O’Callaghan had objected to the Treasury plan.

O’Callaghan owns the Liffey Valley centre through a company called Barkhill, which is a joint venture with Grosvenor Holdings, a property company owned by the Duke of Westminster.

Recently filed accounts show that Barkhill sold buildings on the site for €17.3m last year and it transferred development land to one of its own subsidiaries for a further €14m, making a pre-tax profit of €2.5m.

O’Callaghan also owns the €500m Mahon Point shopping centre, which opened in 2005, and the Merchants Quay centre in Cork.

Cork city council granted permission for this Academy Street project last month.

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