WHEN they first came on the market in 2005, apartments at the Grange in the fashionable south Dublin suburb of Stillorgan offered location, luxury and lifestyle to rival anything found in Paris or New York.
Boasting a 24-hour concierge service to take care of matters such as dry cleaning, ironing, or ordering a taxi, the Grange promised an exotic lifestyle for residents of the development near Stillorgan in south Dublin. With prices for one-bed apartments starting at €435,000 and €575,000 for two-bedroom units, the mortgage payments alone were enough to put paid to the dreams of many.
Three years on, some of those who once had their noses pressed against the polished windows are daring to dream again.
But in the cruelest of ironies for those who secured an expensive foothold at the Grange at the height of the boom, it is the fallout from the bust that will let their new -- and poorer -- neighbours in.
Having failed in their legal challenge to prevent the imposition of Part V of the 2000 Planning Act which insists that 20 per cent of any development must be devoted to social and affordable housing, the Grange's developer, Glenkerrin Homes, have agreed to sell 75 apartments to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council at a massive discount. The Sunday Independent understands 38 of these units will be placed on the market by the developer under the terms of the Affordable Housing scheme with prices ranging between €213,755 and €305,000 depending on the size of the apartment. All apartments will come with one parking space included in the price.
While the cut-price apartment offer may well upset those Grange residents who paid through the nose for their homes they will at least console themselves with the knowledge that their prospective neighbours are contributing to the economy, as mortgages will have to be taken out on these units. Under the terms of the scheme, anyone earning up to €58,000 as a single person is entitled to apply. For couples submitting a joint application, the income limit is €75,000.
The Council's plans for the 37 other units it intends to purchase at the exclusive development will be reserved for social housing . According to a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, these units will be used "for the purpose of providing rental accommodation to persons on the council's social housing list". The Sunday Independent understands that a number of residents -- many of whom paid in excess of €620,000 for their homes in 2006 have contacted Glenkerrin Homes to express their anger at the news of the impending arrival of social and affordable housing.
Asked by the Sunday Independent for its response to the concerns of the Grange residents, a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said: "This agreement is one of many entered into by the council to date, which will provide in excess of 1100 much needed social/affordable homes within residential developments throughout the County which have a Part V requirement."