Friday 2 October 2009

Dunne lodges application for €300m Ballsbridge scheme

DEVELOPER SEÁN Dunne has lodged a new planning application for the high-profile Ballsbridge, Dublin, site which he bought four years ago for a record €379 million.

Last January, An Bord Pleanála shot down Mr Dunne’s original plans for what were the Jurys and Berkeley hotels sites

in Ballsbridge, one of the capital’s more prestigious addresses.

Yesterday, D4 Hotels, the Seán Dunne-controlled company that now runs the hotels, submitted fresh plans to Dublin City Council, for a €300 million development at the site featuring a hotel, apartments, shops and public services, such as childcare facilities and a medical centre.

The new plans provide for a tower of 15 storeys. The unsuccessful bid included a 37-storey tower, which was one of the reasons that the planning appeals board turned down the application.

The alternative that D4 Hotels is now proposing deals with the points raised by An Bord Pleanála, including reducing the maximum height and keeping trees and railings along the Lansdowne Road side of the site.

It has rolled back on the original retail element of the plans and is limiting proposed shopping space to “neighbourhood” scale, about one-fifth of what was originally proposed, and cuts out offices and embassy use entirely.

There is a bigger emphasis on residential development, with family-sized apartments forming a large part of the plan. The company said it is proposing to replace car parks with public spaces.

The hotel will be a seven-storey building and will have 135 bedrooms. Currently there are two hotels on the site.

“The current proposals fully address the January 2009 refusal by An Bord Pleanála of the previous application,” D4 Hotels told The Irish Times yesterday.

If it gets the go-ahead, the new development will cost €300 million and will create an average of 450 building jobs, rising to a peak of 675, according to the company.

Along with that, it estimates that it will create a further 180 jobs “off site”. It says that over the longer term, the completed development will employ 600 people. Overall, D4 Hotels estimates that this will add €22 million a year to the economy.

Mr Dunne bought the Ballsbridge site from Jurys-Doyle Hotels in 2005 for €379 million, a record price approaching €58 million an acre. Glenkerrin Homes topped that within months when it paid €84 million an acre for the old veterinary college, which is close by.

Mr Dunne also owns Hume House in Ballsbridge, adjacent to the D4 Hotels site. He acquired this from original owner Irish Life by swopping it for a docklands office block.

He has subsequently said that he paid 35 per cent of the original purchase price. He borrowed the rest from Ulster Bank, which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.

It is unlikely that he has arranged any financing for his new proposals, as they face a long planning process.

Irish Times

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