Sunday 12 July 2009

McNamara abandons Burlington plans

Property developer Bernard McNamara has abandoned plans for a €1 billion redevelopment of the Burlington Hotel in Dublin for at least five years.

The businessman has signed a longterm management agreement with Tifco,the Irish hotel operator, to operate the hotel for an initial five years. The deal was signed last week. This means that McNamara has effectively shelved ambitious plans to build offices,shops and a number of landmark towers on the site for the foreseeable future.

McNamara bought the Burlington Hotel and adjacent Allianz building in 2006 for €388 million,with the intention of redeveloping the site.

Glasbay,a company controlled by McNamara,recently secured planning permission for the mixed-use scheme. At the time,the company said it was unsure when it would begin building. The company has now handed over the management of the hotel to Tifco with immediate effect. There have been no job losses as a result of the deal,and all Burlington staff have been retained.

Tifco operates the Clontarf Castle hotel in Dublin and the Crown Plaza hotels in Ireland. The company is owned by Gerry Houlihan,the founder of electrical goods chain DID Electrical, Aidan Crowe,a businessman and former bank manager,and Enda O’Meara,the company’s managing director.

John Clifton,general manager of the Burlington,said: ‘‘We believe that this long-term commitment offers enormous growth potential for the Burlington Hotel,and we look forward to working closely with Tifco to realise this exciting opportunity.”

McNamara’s original plan for the Burlington included offices,shops, leisure facilities and a medical centre in three blocks. He also secured permission for a public plaza and gardens.

The first phase of the project involved 300,000 square feet of office space on the Allianz portion of the site. There were also to be 185 residential units, office space,a creche,restaurant/wine bar and leisure centre.

One block,fronting onto Sussex Road and the Mespil Estate,was to contain 102 residential units,retail, restaurants, a creche and leisure centre. It was to be between six and eight storeys. However,An Bord Pleana´la stipulated that the height be reduced by three floors.

Sunday Business Post

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