BUILDER BERNARD McNamara is set to begin a €1 billion construction project in central Dublin after getting the green light from the city's local authority yesterday.
Dublin City Council granted his firm, Michael McNamara and Company, planning permission for the redevelopment of the Burlington Hotel site on the city's southside.
The news comes just days after a row between the council and the building company over five public private partnership (PPP) housing projects geared at regenerating a number of inner city areas.
Last year, McNamara applied for planning to build a commercial complex including 33,300sq m of office space, restaurants, shops, apartments and leisure and medical centres. It is designed around 1.2 acres of open space consisting of a plaza and public park. The development would span three blocks. One block, which will front Sussex Road and the Mespil Estate, will be part six and part eight storeys. A second block, fronting Burleigh Court and Mespil Road, will rise to seven storeys. A third office block, which will face Burlington Road, will be eight storeys.
The council yesterday gave the go-ahead for the plan with no material changes. Mr McNamara bought the hotel and some surrounding property in March last year for €288 million. When the development is completed, it will have an estimated value of €1 billion. The company intends beginning work on phase one of the project next spring. This will consist of 30,000sq m of offices on the site of the old Allianz Insurance building, which forms part of the property.
While part of the development is geared towards offices, the restaurants, shopping and leisure elements will cash in on the adjacent high-end residential area.
The council is known to be keen to encourage office development in the city as it helps to underpin and boost income from rates. However, sources said yesterday that the open-air and leisure elements of the proposed complex also helped to win support.
Earlier this week, the council announced that McNamara and another firm, Castlethorn, were ending their involvement with five PPP housing schemes in the city. Mr McNamara told The Irish Times it had not pulled out of the projects, but said the process had not been completed and the council had changed its approach to procuring the schemes. It said it had written to the council pointing out that new regulations governing size and energy efficiency, as well as changes in the market, meant the schemes were not viable.