Thursday 22 May 2008

Treasury to build north Dublin golf resort

Construction is set to begin next January on a €300 million mixed-use scheme that will include 50 houses, a hotel and two golf courses, writes GRETCHEN FRIEMANN .

TREASURY HOLDINGS is in talks with two five-star hotel operators over the management of its planned 300-bedroom 'green' hotel at Milverton Demesne in North County Dublin.

Last week, Fingal County Council granted full planning permission for the €300 million mixed-use scheme which, in addition to the hotel, will feature two 18-hole Arnold Palmer-designed golf courses, 50 houses, a tennis academy and stables.

Construction at the 467-acre site will begin next January with the completion set for the start of 2013.

Treasury Holdings and its joint partner in this venture, businessman and Malahide-based estate agent Brian O'Farrell, are using a company called Tamorbrick Ltd as a vehicle to develop the historic Milverton Demesne, which is located close to the M1 motorway and is within a 20-minute drive of Dublin airport.

The two partners recently locked horns when a dispute over the freehold interest of Northside shopping centre in Coolock wound up in the High Court.

An AIB trust company, BNY, and Ark Life Assurance Company brought the action against Treasury Holdings after it objected to a proposed €64 million deal with Mr O'Farrell's company, N1 Property Holdings.

BNY and Ark Life wanted to sell their majority stake to N1, but Treasury Holdings claimed that this move would breach a co-ownership agreement.

The international development company had a 21.4 per cent share in the property through its acquisition of Mr Peter Conlon's interest.

Although Mr Justice Frank Clarke ruled in favour of Treasury Holdings, the dispute was recently settled when N1 agreed to pay €100 million for the freehold and remaining leasehold interest.

Despite the steep price tag, Northside Shopping Centre represents a strategic purchase for Mr O'Farrell as it lies at the heart of his €1.2 billion plan to transform the previously neglected area into a new town centre.

Milverton Demesne, however, will be a very different development.

Aimed at the luxury end of the tourism and residential market, the estate will feature 30 upmarket homes and 20 tourist lodges, to be run by the five-star hotel operator.

Treasury Holdings is a seasoned player in this sector, having developed the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Powerscourt in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

The Milverton Demesne hotel will be even greater in scale, with 300 bedrooms and a conference centre - as well as a spa and health centre.

At this size the resort will be one of the largest in the state, but Brian Coppinger, the company's development manager, stressed that the scheme would have a minimal impact on wildlife and the environment.

"We've really followed eco-friendly design principles on this site, so the hotel will be constructed from carbon neutral concrete and it will be heated throughout by bio-mass boilers. We will also have a water recycling scheme where the grey water from the hotel will be pumped to the two golf courses as irrigation," he said.

While the development sector is largely short on green credentials, Treasury Holdings has, in recent years, adopted an increasingly environmentally friendly business strategy with construction underway on its €1.2 billion eco-city just north of China's financial capital, Shanghai. And there are reports that a similar project might be on the cards for Colombia.

But closer to home, the concern for Treasury Holdings and Mr O'Farrell might be the continuing upheaval on global money markets, which has played havoc with Irish property prices.

According to Mr Coppinger, this economic squeeze is likely to be resolved by the time the scheme is completed in 2013 and the "exclusive" three, four and five-bedroom homes are put on the market. "If they haven't, we're going to have much bigger worries on our hands than Milverton."

Henry J Lyons, the architecture firm responsible for Treasury Holdings' swish head office, Connaught House, at Burlington Road in Dublin, is designing the scheme, which was recently enlarged by 30 acres to accommodate the two 18-hole golf courses.

The Arnold Palmer-designed premier course will require club membership while his signature course will operate a pay and play policy. Both will be available to hotel guests.

Irish Times

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