NAMA IS EXPECTED to give its approval shortly for the sale of Hatch Hall, the former Victorian university hall at Hatch Street in Dublin 2 (pictured). Agents Douglas Newman Good Commercial was recently offered close to the asking price of €6 million after inviting a number of parties to lodge “best bids”.
The estate agent was acting on the instructions of Galway developer Gerry Barrett whose development company Edward Holdings has had its loans transferred to Nama.
Barrett’s bought Hatch Hall in 2004 for €16 million with the intention of turning it into a five-star boutique hotel. The plan was blocked by An Bord Pleanála and he eventually settled for permission to convert it into 36 apartments.
There was intense competition between developers seeking to buy Hatch Hall from the Jesuit order when it was originally for sale near the peak of the property market. Barrett initially got planning approval from Dublin City Council to operate an 81-bedroom hotel on the site by more than doubling the size of the 2,787 sq m (30,000 sq ft) listed building.
This would have involved adding two storeys to the four-storey building along Hatch Lane and the provision of a swimming pool at basement level. It would also have seen the demolition of a section of the three/four-storey building at the junction of Hatch Lane and Hatch Place and replacing it with a seven-storey structure.
The planning appeals board railed against the plan, saying that the changes required to turn it into a hotel would involve alternations to the protected structure to an unacceptable level. It also said the seven-storey addition to the hall would be visually obtrusive.
Barrett subsequently got permission to convert the 83-bedroom student facility into 36 apartments with the option of using the chapel as a health and fitness centre. Hatch Hall dagtes from the early 1900s and was run as a student hall by the Jesuits for around 90 years.
It is currently used as a hostel for asylum seekers. The Department of Justice Equality is due to rent the centre for at least another year at an annual rent of €350,000.