Sunday 17 May 2009

Not A Pretty Site

Properties all over Dublin are in 'limbo land' as the downturn worsens. Dublin City Council is even mulling over what uses its own vacant sites can be put to, writes Roisin Burke.

Mill on the loss: permission is being sought to turn the old Boland's Mill site into Boland's Mill Wharf, a 41,000sq m office and hotel complex. However 'while it's still in the pipeline, it may not proceed in the current climate'

Derelict and disused sites will be a feature of Dublin's cityscape, as ambitious developments are mothballed as no longer viable. Such sites could cost their owners tens or even hundreds of thousands of euro if listed on Dublin City Council's (DCC) Derelict Sites Register, as a levy of 3% of their value per annum can then be imposed.

Even well-appointed properties are in a disused limbo, having little chance of either being sold on or built on now.

Hotel and pub owner Martin Keane said development of the famous Mother Redcap's site, a former pub and market, is on hold due to a quadruple hike in the loan terms his bank approved 18 months ago.

"Now after the exceptional expense – engineering, archaeological digs, conservation measures, I can't get the [loan] terms I was getting," the owner of the Oliver St John Gogarty, The Left Bank and Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar said. "I agreed a margin of 1%, but the bank now wants 4% over.

"Hand on heart I'd have to say it wouldn't be viable to do it just yet, but I think in three years it'll be different," a slightly exasperated Keane concluded, jokingly invoking St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases.

Halted residential developments take up swathes of Cork Street in Dublin 8, some with advertising hoarding featuring aspirational shots of the gilded young executive types who might have snapped up units off the plans before. There hasn't been a flicker of movement at these sites for months.

Dilapidated eyesores line both Thomas Street and James's Street, also in Dublin 8, including the DCC derelict site registered 162, 163, and 164 on James Street and 112 and 113 on Thomas Street.

Other disused properties in the area are earmarked as part of the Digital Hub Development/SoHo development plan which. like the nearby Cathedral Quarter plan, is going nowhere fast at present.

Now DCC is mulling over what temporary uses some of its own vacant sites could be put to until conditions improve for development.

A site or property can be listed on the derelict sites register by DCC if it is "in a neglected or unsightly condition" or contains dangerous or ruined structures or litter and waste. The owner then has six weeks to restore the site to a "non-derelict condition" and can face financial penalty if they fail to do so.

The DCC can compulsorily purchase a site, but a development unit source said this would be a last resort in a climate where there is little potential to either sell it on or develop it.

Sunday Tribune

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