Sunday, 1 February 2009

Value of Dunne’s Ballsbridge site may now be less than €100 million

The Jury’s Doyle hotel site in Ballsbridge in Dublin, which property developer Sean Dunne assembled at a cost of €379 million, is now worth less than €100 million, auctioneers have estimated.

Last Friday, Dunne’s company, Mountbrook Homes, was refused planning permission for a high-rise development on the site, which would have included a 37-storey tower. In a statement, the firm said it was ‘‘very disappointed’’ with the decision by An Bord Pleanala and would consider its ruling before submitting a revised plan for the site.

Ulster Bank provided Dunne with most of the financing for the site, believed to be in the region of €270 million, but it is understood the lender syndicated around half of this to other banks. However, experienced auctioneers in some of the country’s largest estate agents, said that the site was now worth between €80 million and €100 million, though exact valuations are difficult in today’s market.

‘‘It is all about the exit values,” said one senior auctioneer, who did not wish to be named. ‘‘If you take the view that new homes [prices] are now back 40 per cent on what they were two years ago, and are predicted to drop another 10 per cent in the next six to nine months, that is a 50 per cent drop on any investment.

Land values drop further than housing unit values, so these are now back 70 to 75 per cent in this case.” Selling the site would also be very difficult in the current environment, according to Duncan Lyster, director of Irish and international investment at Lisney.

‘‘The number of buyers for a site like that - which is probably the best site in Dublin - would be very few. In terms of development of it . . . the climate for raising money is as bad as it’s ever been,” he said.

The Sunday Business Post understands that a wealthy Irish businessman expressed an interest in the site six months ago, but did not proceed because of the poor economic environment and global credit crunch. Informed sources also said that the Doyle family of hoteliers, who sold Dunne the site, ‘‘have no intention’’ of buying the site back.

Sunday Business Post

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