Sunday 6 September 2009

Green light for Stillorgan shopping centre revamp

Real Estate Opportunities (REO), the listed vehicle majority-owned by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett's Treasury Holdings, has secured planning permission for a revamp of Stillorgan shopping centre in south Dublin.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council will allow the development group to demolish and amalgamate a number of the centre's shops as part of an interim asset management plan.

The developer already has planning to develop a new shopping centre on the site but it is awaiting the outcome of its efforts to persuade the council to upgrade its wider land interests in the area – comprising the shopping centre, Leisureplex and Blakes sites – to a major town centre in its new development plan. That would allow REO to develop 40,000 square metres of retail space there, roughly the same size as the Liffey Valley shopping centre.

At present the centre has more than 60 retail units in two pedestrian malls. In 2005 Arnotts, one of the main tenants, announced it was to close its shop but later reversed the decision. However, it is understood not to be renewing its leases when they expire. Some of its leases are long-term.

Reports in Britain last week stated that REO wants to find an equity or debt-financed partner to take a stake in the Battersea Power Station development. The site was bought by the company for £400m and REO is believed to have held talks with sovereign wealth funds about investing in the project.

The planning application for Battersea envisages the construction of 3,700 new homes, 650,000 square feet of offices and a 2,000-seat conference centre. A decision on the planning application is likely to be made early next year.

In its interim financial results, REO said the first half of this year had been an "extremely difficult period for the company" and that it remained "extremely cautious about the outlook for the overall property market in Ireland and the UK". The group said it will realise £35m to £40m in cash following the completion of one of several corporate transactions that are currently being explored.

Sunday Tribune

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