WITH A NUMBER of high-profile public private partnership (PPP) housing regeneration schemes biting the dust of late, tongues have been wagging about the viability of the ambitious U2 Tower in Dublin's south docklands.
The Dublin Docklands Development Authority's (DDDA) annual report published yesterday sets 2011 as the completion date for the tower. However, negotiations between the DDDA and development firm Geranger have been on the long-winded side, to put it mildly.
Talks between the two parties began last October and Geranger - a consortium consisting of Seán Mulryans Ballymore Homes, developer Paddy McKillen and U2 band and management members - are still being referred to as "provisional preferred bidder" by the DDDA.
Paul Maloney, chief executive of the DDDA, however, has the end of July as D Day.
The "state of play" (meaning whether the provisional preferred bidder has moved to preferred bidder) will be announced then, according to Maloney. Not a man to be pinned down, Maloney says that "financial, legal and technical" issues were still being hammered out by the two parties.
No doubt there is much to discuss. The tower, due to rise to well over 120 metres, will be the tallest building built in Dublin and by far the most ambitious PPP scheme.
And that's not to mention the beleaguered residential market and question marks over the feasibility of PPP schemes.
"Naturally we are being exceptionally careful," says Maloney.
Starchitects Foster + Partners' plans for the €200 million scheme include a hotel, shops and residential accommodation - 20 per cent of which will be social and affordable.
Referring to the stalled residential market as one of the "hurdles" the authority has to overcome, Maloney insists that it is "committed to ensuring the U2 Tower is built and has taken very significant steps to deliver it".
Fingers crossed it won't be a bad case of vertigo!
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