Sunday 19 August 2007

Ballina man to build €1bn ‘green city’ in Colombia

BALLINA man Richard Barrett is set to take on his biggest project yet, building a €1billion ‘green city’ in South America. The property empire of Treasury Holdings, the largest developer in Ireland, co-owned by Richard Barrett and John Ronan, looks set to transform the Colombian capital of Bogota after it was reported that city planners made an approach to build a green city there.

The offer comes on foot of Colombia’s increasing environmental problems as a result of the growing population which is soaring by 140,000 annually causing the carbon footprint to escalate. The Bogota plan is now said to be similar to Treasury Holdings €1.2 billion ‘eco-city’ near Shanghai in China.

The world’s first purpose- build eco-city at Dongtan on the island of Chongming is now underway with phase one expected to be completed in 2010. It will be finished in time for the World Expo to be held in Shanghai. The area will then be home to 80,000 people.

In an interview with national newspapers last week, Richard Barrett said he is confident that his company is on the cusp of something great. “We’ve got limited amounts of expertise for these projects at the moment, but we’re trying to build larger teams so we can take on new projects outside China. Eco-city developments are a new way of thinking and I’m sure that eventually it’ll be the biggest thing we can do as a company.”

The Ballina barrister and economist developed an interest in property law and was involved in property development prior to founding Treasury Holdings with John Ronan in 1989. Since then, the company has gone on to become internationally recognised and the Dongtan development has generated huge interest across the globe.

The eco-city will combat the carbon footprint problems by using an environ-mental planning scheme. With China in the grip of a population explosion, between now and 2020, the country needs to build 400 new towns to accommodate more than 300 million people from the rural areas. The project was taken on by the Shanghai Industrial Development Corporation (SIIC) who will work with the Irish company to develop a model town.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has lauded the work of Treasury Holdings and described the Shanghai venture as “a most exciting development which highlights the mutual benefits of co-operation between Irish and Chinese companies.”

With Dublin now rivalling Los Angeles in terms of its carbon footprint, the company has shown no moves to use their expertise on home ground. It seems that although there is no development of that type in Ireland to date, it is not something that has gone unnoticed by Mr Barrett.

“If we owned all of Dublin’s North Docks, we could have built an eco-development there,” he said.

Anna-Marie Flynn
Western People

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