THE sale of 27 acres of the St James's Gate site could fetch Diageo as much as €400m, and the sky's the limit on how tall any new buildings can go.
Although the company says the city centre site, with its Kilkenny and Dundalk operations, has been valued at half a billion euro, property experts said yesterday it would probably sell for between €12-15m an acre -- meaning it could go for €324-€405m.
Because the location is close to Heuston Station and the Luas, and within walking distance from Broadstone which will become a major transport hub, a high-rise development is likely to get approval.
Heuston Gate, where Eircom is building its headquarters, will be home to a skyscraper of 32 storeys (117 metres) and the city council would be keen to allow a high-density development across the road to help combat urban sprawl and keep people living in the city.
Whoever buys the land when it goes on sale in 2013 -- and there are few developers with pockets deep enough to do a solo run -- will need to spend a lot of time with city planners.
Diageo has not ruled out getting involved in the redevelopment, with a spokeswoman saying yesterday that while the company was not involved in property development, it would "aim to be involved".
Experts said a masterplan would probably be required showing a "vision" for the site, and it would have to be rezoned.
Currently, most of it is zoned Z7A -- industrial and for employment creation -- but the portion on the quays has a less restrictive Z5 which allows for mixed-use development.
The walls along Victoria Quay, which add a bleakness to the river frontage, may also have to be retained because, although not listed, they are considered historic.
One source said the land would probably sell for €10-€12m an acre, with another putting the figure at €12-15m.
"The zoning would come, but the likelihood is a masterplan would be needed," said one. "There would be every possibility a developer would want to do a joint venture. If you could raise the finance, it would be a great project.. It's one of the last cherries in the city."