Tuesday, 2 December 2008

€95 million to regenerate three major inner city flat complexes

DUBLIN CITY Council is to spend €95 million to regenerate three major inner city flat complexes which were to have been rebuilt by developer Bernard McNamara under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

City councillors were last night told the PPP process was "no longer viable" for the regeneration of the dilapidated social housing complexes because of the economic downturn and the council would have to use its own resources to house the residents.

The council has already lost €5 million following the collapse earlier this year of the agreement with Mr McNamara to build developments of social affordable and private housing on five council owned sites.

The five developments were at Dominick Street and Seán McDermott Street in the north inner city, O'Devaney Gardens, and Infirmary Road near the Phoenix Park and St Michael's Estate in the south inner city.

The council will now press ahead with building social and affordable units at three of the sites: St Michael's Estate at a cost of €36 million, O'Devaney Gardens at €32 million and Dominick Street at €27 million.

The smaller plots of land at Infirmary Road and Seán McDermott Street are not existing social housing complexes with residents needing re-housing and their development will be considered at a later date, assistant city manager Ciarán McNamara said.

The council is to spend €8.5 million next year to start the regeneration of the three estates. Work will begin on 137 social and affordable houses for St Michael's Estate, where planning permission has already been obtained, in 2010.

The council will then design 80 social apartments for Dominick Street and an initial 70 social and affordable homes for O'Devaney Gardens, where a total of 200 homes will eventually be built. It will then apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission for both developments. However, building work will not begin until 2011.

The new plans have emerged from a special housing taskforce established following the collapse of the agreement with Mr McNamara.

The council had in recent months been in negotiation with Boston firm Corcoran Jennison, the bidder that originally lost out to Mr McNamara.

However, Ciarán McNamara said last night legal advice was that Corcoran Jennison's plans could not proceed under the original procurement process for the PPPs. Re-housing the existing residents was a matter of urgency, but he said private investment, for both commercial uses and private housing would be part of each site at a later date.

"While Dublin City Council continues to be open to considering other alternative solutions to deliver the regeneration of all three projects, we are not willing to wait around. Our tenants are our priority and we have to begin to address their needs," he said.

Dublin soccer club, St Patrick's Athletic, is also understood to be interested in becoming involved in developing St Michael's Estate. Mr McNamara said the club would have to approach the council with a proposal which would be put before city councillors if they were interested in the development.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne said the new proposals were an important step forward.

Sinn Féin councillor Christy Burke said the council had worked "pretty fast" to come up with a new plan. "I hope these proposals can inject some hope into these three areas," he said.

Irish Times


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