Sunday 14 September 2008

Downturn might 'make Dunne vision an eyesore'

THE worsening economic circumstances could result in Sean Dunne's planned 37-storey tower in the heart of Ballsbridge turning into a "construction eyesore", it was claimed yesterday.

In an ongoing hearing on the ambitious project, it was asked whether any bank or syndicate of banks would be able to afford to finance the full project on the site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels.

A resident of the area, Patrick Dowling, who has spent most of his career in finance as a banker and within industry, said banks were not lending to each other, let alone their customers.

"I don't know how much this project will cost. There have been figures in the newspapers in excess of €2bn," he told a Bord Pleanala hearing on the construction.

"Whatever the amount, it is large and in the current climate it is my view that no one bank or syndicate of banks is capable of financing this project in its entirety.

"At best the project can only be financed on a piecemeal basis and this gives rise to my gravest concern -- that for years the site will only be partially developed and half-built and so will become the largest construction eyesore in the country."

Mr Dowling said there was the risk of the new Lansdowne Road stadium being on one side of the area and a "development disaster" on the other.

Yesterday was the fourth day of the Croke Park hearing on the controversial Dublin 4 project.

Mr Dunne paid a record €380m for the seven-acre site in the heart of Ballsbridge in 2005 and has ambitious plans for it, including a hotel, shopping centre and 294 apartments.

The council granted planning permission for a large part of the project, but his plans for the 37-storey tower have been rejected. He is asking An Bord Pleanala to reinstate it.

Shane Hickey
Irish Independent

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