Wednesday 23 April 2008

€180m spent assembling 'Dublin Central' site

The 5.5-acre site for the 'Dublin Central' scheme between Upper O'Connell Street and Moore Street took over four-and-a-half years to complete and involved around 70 leaseholders and freeholders

PROPERTY DEVELOPER Joe O'Reilly of Chartered Land has spent in the region of €180 million assembling the 5.5-acre site for the proposed Dublin Central shopping, leisure and residential development between Upper O'Connell Street and Moore Street.

The €1.25 billion scheme - which includes two new pedestrian streets and three public squares - is easily the most spectacular project ever proposed for the city centre.

If, as expected, the plans are approved by the planners, it will add 65,000sq m (700,000sq ft) of retail space in the city centre. Another 37,160sq m (400,000sq ft) is planned by Arnotts for nearby Princes Street.

Most of the major retail schemes over the last 20 years have been along the M50 where around 232,250sq m (2.5 million sq ft) of new shopping space was built in locations such as Dundrum, Tallaght, Liffey Valley, Blanchardstown, Finglas and Clare Hall. The two huge schemes now planned for the Henry Street area will be seen as an attempt to tip the scales back in favour of the city centre.

The intricate task of assembling the vast site took more than four-and-a-half years to complete and involved around 70 leaseholders and freeholders. It is by far the largest development site pulled together in the inner city since the assembly of the site for the St Stephen's Green shopping centre. The biggest single part of the site, the former Carlton Cinema standing on about one acre, was acquired from Richard Quirke for a figure believed to be over €30 million.

A further €25 million is being spent on buying the Royal Dublin Hotel which accounts for about three-quarters of an acre. The property includes a period townhouse which is to be restored and preserved.

Dublin City Council, which has consistently supported Chartered Land's stunning vision for one of the most rundown inner city areas, sold the company a quarter-acre maintenance depot fronting on to O'Rahilly's Parade, off Parnell Street. The consideration was around €9 million.

The Office of Public Works took a different view, opting for a profit sharing arrangement with the developer in return for handing over two buildings at Upper O'Connell Street.

Under the agreement, the State will be guaranteed a minimum annual income of around €1 million. The final figure will depend on the overall rental roll from the scheme.

CIÉ and Dublin Bus also struck a deal, exchanging two buildings along O'Connell Street for 1,858sq m (20,000sq ft) of new offices over retail facilities in the new development. The two buildings owned by the transport companies are partially listed and stand on a site of about a quarter of an acre.

Traders leasing shops along Moore Street, including many immigrants, are being paid between €50,000 and €250,000 to vacate their premises while owners are getting anything from €750,000 to €2 million for their freehold interests.

And the pay-off did not stop there. O'Reilly also bought six adjoining retail buildings from 36 to 41 Henry Street which are to be demolished to make way for a grand entrance into the new shopping precinct.

The Irish Times

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