Monday 4 February 2008

Skyscrapers scaling new heights to beat council cut-off point

DUBLIN is set to become a skyscraper city, and the sky's the limit on how tall buildings can go.

More than a dozen high-rise buildings are in the pipeline, even though the city council has yet to set a maximum permitted height for buildings across the city.

Homes, hotels and offices will boast panoramic views across the capital when buildings up to 150m tall -- more than two -- and-a-half times the height of Liberty Hall -- shoot up in the coming years.

Only now, with more than a dozen high-rise buildings -- structures more than 50 metres tall -- in the planning process, are city planners seeking to have an upper height limit.

Dublin City Council is in the process of setting down the upper height limits, but permission for some of the biggest building projects ever undertaken here are likely to be granted before the strategy is in place.

Among the projects likely to be adjudicated on by the council before the new limits apply include Sean Dunne's One Berkeley Court development in Dublin 4.


This includes a "landmark" building of 37 floors, along with a complete redevelopment of the Jury's/Berkeley Court site which he acquired for €400m.

The cost of developing the site is expected to reach €1bn, and, if approved, the luxury apartments will sell for €1m each.

The so-called "gateway" to the city comprising the U2 Tower (36 storeys) and Point Village (32 storeys) has been approved, with construction under way on the latter project.

Planning permission is also being sought by Treasury Holdings for a new hotel at Spencer Dock, which is set to reach 152 metres -- 35 storeys.

Other projects include Heuston Gate beside Heuston Station, which at 117 metres and 32 floors will be Ireland's tallest building when complete later this year.

It is being built by the Office of Public Works, which could sell it once complete.

"We had been examining the possibility of retaining elements of the site for further state use, (and are) giving consideration to structuring a sale that will maximise value to the State," a spokesman said.

"Given the current market this may not necessarily mean a deal where money is paid up front."

The draft building height strategy -- called Maximising the City's Potential -- set out Grangegorman, Connolly, Tara and Heuston stations and the Docklands as locations where high-rise should be considered.

Higher densities should reduce urban sprawl, and it will be the first time the council has defined what "high rise" is.

A spokesman said the council would take as long as necessary to adopt the right strategy. The public are asked to make submissions up to March 7 next.

"So important is this to us we would ensure a variation of the development plan," said a spokesman.

"Once it's gone through the full public consultation process, An Bord Pleanala must take account of it.

"It will give clear guidelines on where we think the densities and high rise should occur."
Sky's the limit for tall order buildings

Spencer Dock Hotel

This proposed 35-storey hotel is to be developed by Treasury Holdings as part of the landmark National Conference Centre complex on Dublin's North Wall Quay. The public spaces of the hotel will occupy the first five floors.

The remainder comprising hotel rooms, a fitness centre and spa, hotel suites, clubs, lounges, meeting rooms and winter gardens.

One Berkeley Court

The developer behind Mountbrook Homes acquired the Jury's/ Berkeley Court site for a reported €400m, and is set to spend another €1bn developing it -- assuming permission is granted.

The proposal includes a 'landmark' building of 132m, or 37 floors, along with a redevelopment of the site. Residents and local councillors are bitterly opposed to the project, and An Bord Pleanala is likely to have the final word.

U2 Tower

The 36-storey skyscraper being built by the band, the final design of which has been granted planning permission after two architectural competitions.

The first was won by an Irish firm, but the Dublin Docklands Development Authority -- the planning authority in this case -- decided a more intensive development was needed. Sir Norman Foster won the second competition, and legal action by unsuccessful bidders may yet follow.

Point Village Watchtower

Being built by Harry Crosbie, the iconic building will form the 'gateway' into Dublin Port when complete. The watchtower forms part of an €800m scheme, to include a new concert venue, cinema, apartments offices and hotel.

Heuston Gate

Situated on a State site between the Irish Museum of Modern Art and Heuston Station, 'Heuston Gate', at 117m and 32 floors, will be Ireland's tallest building when completed later this year.

A mixed-use scheme of residential, office, cultural and amenity developments, the residential element amounts to 650 high specification, family-sized apartments -- while 'Heuston Gate' will have elevated roadway access to the Phoenix Park and directly into Heuston Station when complete.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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