Sunday 25 May 2008

McNamara may discuss compromise housing deal

Property developer Bernard McNamara is expected to start discussions with Dublin City Council on how to salvage at least some of the five social and affordable housing schemes that are in jeopardy in the capital.

McNamara appeared to pull out of the schemes last week, but it is understood he has only signalled his intention to withdraw and has not formally pulled out of the schemes. The developer blamed changes in the property market, new apartment-size rules and planning delays for the decision not to go ahead.

However, sources close to McNamara indicated that he would be open to discussions on proceeding with the projects on revised terms. One possibility would be that he could increase his original tender price for the €900 million schemes, or build housing units with a view to renting them, rather than selling them.

Sources close to the projects indicated that neither side wanted to re-run the tendering process if a compromise could be found, based on a delay to the projects rather than shelving them.

However, it is difficult to change the existing contracts without issuing new tenders. McNamara denies pulling out of the projects, but said he found it impossible to conclude agreements. McNamara’s building firm, Michael McNamara & Co, is one of the biggest construction companies in the state, with about 520 staff.

However, the firm confirmed to The Sunday Business Post that it laid off ten head office staff and 19 site management staff in recent weeks. In a statement, the company said that further redundancies were likely ‘‘at the builders’ holidays, when a few of our projects are finishing’’.

The firm said it had not laid off as many employees as other developers. McNamara has a broad range of interests and last week received planning permission for the €1 billion development of a site that includes the Burlington Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Sunday Business Post

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