Sunday 15 July 2007

Clash of the property titans snags €90m plan

BUSINESSMAN Jim Mansfield's ambitious plans to build a conference centre in west Dublin have been stymied - for the second time - by the Point Depot owner, Harry Crosbie, in the latest round of a high-stakes turf war between the two titans of development in the Dublin area.

Mr Mansfield, the controversial developer who has long harboured hopes of building a 6,000-seat convention centre beside his City West Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin, submitted scaled-back plans to the local authority in April in hope of his building getting the green light from the planners.

But Harry Crosbie, the entertainment entrepreneur whose consortium won the bid to build a conference facility in Dublin's docklands, is so far the sole objector to date to Mr Mansfield's plans.

Mr Crosbie, along with Treasury Holdings and CIE, won the contract to build the long-awaited national conference centre in Spencer Dock in April. However, Mr Crosbie's main concerns with the City West conference centre appear to be its potential as a concert venue.

In a submission to South Dublin County Council, consultants acting for Mr Crosbie's Point Exhibition Company refer to Mr Mansfield's "alleged" conference centre. They suggest that it is "clearly designed" for large scale concerts, rather than conferences - and say it can accommodate far more the 4,000 claimed in the planning application.

Sources close to the developer said Mr Mansfield was upset that his latest plans, said to be worth in the €70m-€90m region, have once again prompted objections from Mr Crosbie, whom he sees as a commercial rival.

They said the project had been scaled back to meet planners' concerns and that the issue of public transport to City West was resolved with plans to extend the Luas to Citywest and the widening of the N7.

Mr Mansfield declined to comment. Mr Crosbie could not be contacted by this newspaper.

The two men are amongst the wealthiest developers in the capital and both have been credited with rejuvenating their respective territories.

Jim Mansfield, who is worth an estimated €420m, built the biggest hotel complex in Ireland in west Dublin, although his developments have brought him into repeated conflict with the planning authorities.

Harry Crosbie, worth an estimated €315m, has spearheaded the development of the city's docklands through the Point Theatre, which he controls and where he plans to develop an €800m multi-function Point Village complex.

Mr Mansfield's latest plans have scaled back his Convention Centre from a 6,000-seater to a 4,000-seater, covering 7,500 square foot with huge 13 metre high ceilings. The project has been supported by numerous commercial companies, including the association of Irish conference organisers.

But John Spain, consultants to Mr Crosbie's company, suggest that if Mr Mansfield does get planning permission for his conference centre, he should be required to give an undertaking that he won't hold concerts there or accommodate more than 4,000 people.

Irish Independent

No comments: