Monday 25 February 2008

Dunne warns of economic crisis without Jurys' site

PROPERTY developer Sean Dunne has warned that foreign investment into Ireland will dry up if he does not receive planning permission for his proposed 1.5bn 37-storey tower at the Jurys hotels site in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Dunne, who has taken a huge financial gamble by buying the site and desperately needs planning permission, said the city was facing an office accommodation crisis and if "firms cannot find space in the city centre, competing cities in Europe and the rest of the world will be looked to".

The justification for the site is in a document commissioned by Dunne and seen by the Sunday Tribune. The document says the decision on planning permission "has implications for the national economy as a whole". It forms part of Dunne's final bid to persuade planners to back the scheme.

The assessment claims Dunne's project will generate over 4,000 jobs and contribute 313m annually to the local economy. Dunne also claims his project would help recover some of the estimated 6.5bn a year lost from the economy by Irish people sending their money abroad. He said the retail element of his scheme would "enhance the city's attraction and competitiveness as an international shopping destination".

The strident tone of the document underlines how vital it is for Dunne to secure planning permission as quickly as possible. The developer has already borrowed over 750m from the banks for the project, with the Ballsbridge site itself acting as security for several loans from Ulster Bank.

A spokesman for Dunne also confirmed he had yet to arrange financing for construction of the project. However, fellow developer Ray Grehan, who secured permission for a 15-storey tower on a neighbouring site, said this was usual and that he hadn't secured funding for his site either. He said, however, that he was confident of securing the 500m to complete his scheme.

Although publicly Dunne's firm, Mountbrook Homes, remains bullish, some in the property business privately express reservations about whether his plans are achievable. The doubts centre on the fact that it involves the construction of almost 28,000 square metres of office space at a time when supply is outstripping demand.

Sunday Tribune

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