10th January (Issue 379)

Welcome to the Origin Capital Weekly Irish Property Review. This update is designed to provide you with a full recap of the latest property news from the media over the last seven days.



Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort, Co Wicklow The Singaporean owners of two of Ireland’s most luxurious resorts, Castlemartyr in Co Cork and Sheen Falls in Co Kerry, have paid between €15m and €20m for Prem Group’s Tulfarris Hotel & Golf resort in Co Wicklow. Dr. Stanley Quek and Peng Loh completed the deal shortly before Christmas and are expected to significantly upgrade the four-star establishment, which slipped into the red last year, according to the most recent accounts for the business. Prem Group bought the 220 acre resort in 2016 for €8m. The latest accounts for the hotel’s operating company, Kennack Ltd, show the business made a loss after tax of €1.5m for the year to the end of December 2021. During the pandemic Prem Group made use of state support measures that allowed it to claim €1.6m in government grants for Tulfarris in 2021 and nearly €700k in 2020. The Sunday Times, 1st January

Hospitality Staff Residence A growing number of hotels at the higher end of the market are struggling to accommodate staff amid a continuing housing crisis that has sent residential rent and property prices soaring. The five-star Ashford Castle hotel in Co Mayo and the four-star Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort in Co Cavan are among the top-tier establishments weighing hefty investments on purpose-built staff accommodation. An Bord Pleanála is due to decide whether the five-star Powerscourt hotel in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, can press ahead with plans to construct a 56-bedroom building for staff on the estate’s grounds, a move that drew objections from the Slazenger family, who still own part of the property. The Merrion hotel in Dublin is reported to be considering building living quarters for employees unable to find or afford a home in the capital. Ashford Castle’s owner, Red Carnation Hotels, is considering spending more than €4m on a second purpose-built building that could house up to 70 staff. It is understood that Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, which is owned by a hotel group controlled by the Austrian investor Thomas Roeggla, may lodge a planning application this year to convert an existing building into accommodation for up to 20 staff. The Sunday Times, 1st January

Tourism Industry Fears are growing of a serious escalation of the emergency accommodation crisis as more than 1,800 hotel beds will be withdrawn from the system in the coming weeks. A further 224 contracts providing accommodation for Ukrainians that have come to Ireland are also set to be reviewed by the department in the same time period, with thousands more beds potentially being withdrawn. In the past 12 months, the number of people being accommodated by the state has increased tenfold, from 7,250 in January 2022 to 73,490 this week. New figures show that there are 54,390 Ukrainians in state accommodation, along with a further 19,100 refugees and asylum seekers from other countries in the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) system. The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said that c. 28% of all beds in hotels, B&Bs and guest accommodation businesses are under contract by the government, warning that anything over 12 to 15% would cause “serious problems” for the tourism industry during the summer high season. Failte Ireland estimates that for every euro a tourist spends on accommodation, €2.50 is spent on auxiliary tourism services. The Sunday Times, 8th January



North Docklands, Dublin Citigroup has signed for a new headquarters in Dublin, in a boost for the office market in the capital. The US lender has agreed a €300m deal for a new office campus in the city’s north docklands. The deal with Johnny Ronan’s RGRE for the delivery of 300,000 sq. ft of office space at the developer’s Waterfront South Central site was concluded in the week leading up to Christmas. Citi is understood to be paying c. €100m to acquire the site, with a further €200m being set aside for the construction of its new base. Due for completion in 2026, the bank’s proposed footprint will equate to c. 70% of the 430,000 sq. ft of office accommodation RGRE intends to develop as part of the wider north docklands scheme. The Irish Times, 6th January

South Quays, Dublin Professional services group Aon has signed up to occupy an office block being refurbished by property group Iput on Dublin’s south quays in an early-year boost for the commercial property sector. Aon announced that it plans to move its Irish headquarter operations to the 32,000 sq. ft space at 15 George’s Quay formerly occupied by Ulster Bank. The firm has reached an agreement with Iput Real Estate to pre-let the space in the building that is currently being redeveloped and modernised. The Irish Times, 9th January



Harcourt Developments Portfolio Camgill Development Corporation has emerged as a potential buyer of the Harcourt Developments retail portfolio, just weeks after the Canadian property company agreed to buy Dundalk retail park in Co Louth. Camgill entered talks about a possible purchase of the Harcourt portfolio of six shopping centres after exclusive negotiations ended between Harcourt, its lender Apollo Global Management and bidder Lugus Capital, a Cork-based property business. Sources say Lugus remains part of the process and is still interested in pursuing a transaction when the debt market returns to normality. Sources say Camgill’s bid was substantially below the original asking price of €100m. It also pre-dates the closure of the Canadian group’s deal to buy the Louth property. The Sunday Times, 8th January



Whitehall, Dublin 9 Eastview Construction Swords has been approved SHD planning permission for a €78m Mixed-Use Development at Hartfield Place on the Swords Road in Whitehall, Dublin 9. The development, which spans c. 404,000 sq. ft, incorporates seven apartment blocks, ranging in height of up to eight storeys and will provide 472 residential units, alongside a creche, café, gym and associated works. The Business Post, 28th December



Clongriffin, Dublin 13 Thirteen homes in Clongriffin which were built by Gannon Homes between 2004 and 2006 have been listed on the market, with the houses being sold as part of two bundles. One bundle of nine rental homes has a guide price of €2.7m, while another listing of four rental homes has a guide price of €1.1m. On the listings for Gannon’s properties on Daft.ie, it is stated that 12 of the 13 homes have tenants in place. The rental income from the homes in Hoey Court, Grange Lodge Avenue and Beau Park Row is between €1.4k and €1.6k per unit per month, adding up to more than €218k a year across the 13 houses. Based on the existing rents being paid on the homes and the sale prices for each unit, if they are bought at the guide price, the new owners could expect gross yields of between 6% and 6.5%. The Business Post, 4th January
For lending terms on this asset please contact rossmetcalfe@origincapital.ie

BNP Paribas Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index Building slowed at its fastest rate since the summer last month as inflation continued to hit the industry. The latest BNP construction survey shows that building slowed for the third month running in December, with rising costs hitting demand. The Index, seen as a key indicator of industry trends, slid to 43.2 in December, its sharpest fall since July. Any return below the index’s benchmark of 50 means activity shrank, while any reading above that number indicates that it expanded. New orders, an indicator of the industry’s prospects, slipped for the ninth consecutive month, according to the survey. However, the survey states that raw material and other costs rose at a slower rate than in November while price increases were at their lowest in 21 months. The index shows that house building fell to 40.6 in December, commercial construction to 46.9 and civil engineering, mostly big State-funded projects, tumbled to 38.9. The Irish Times, 9th January

Housing Targets The housing minister has conceded that the government will struggle to hit its own housing targets this year. Darragh O’Brien described the drop in building starts as “a concern” that could impact the number of new homes delivered in 2024 and beyond. Building control authorities said commencement notices received between January and October 2022 were 15% down on the same period in 2021, with starts made on 22,760 homes. Under Housing for All, 29,000 new homes are to be delivered this year, with that figure rising to 33,450 in 2024. The housing minister said government would examine ways to “reverse” the impact that the drop in commencements would have. Despite c. 28,000 homes being delivered over the year, 2022 saw homelessness levels rise to record highs, as did rent levels and housing prices. The Sunday Times, 1st January

The Land Development Agency (LDA), which was set up by the government four years ago to accelerate the construction of housing, has built no homes on state lands, new figures show. Previously unreleased details of the state agency’s activity under Project Tosaigh, its flagship programme, show that it has delivered just 270 homes, all of which were acquired from some of the biggest developers in the country rather than built by the agency itself. The units were bought from Cairn Homes, the O’Flynn Group and Whitebox Group. The Business Post, 31sth December

Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 Dwyer Nolan Developments has been given the green light to build a 13-storey residential development comprising 927 apartment units in Ballyfermot in Dublin 10. A breakdown of apartments includes 325 one-bed, 538 two-bed and 64 three-bed units. The estimated cost of the proposed development is €145m. The Business Post, 28th December

Watergrasshill, Co Cork Vincentia Investments has been granted planning permission to build 74 residential units at Bishop’s Island in Watergrasshill in Co Cork. Estimated to cost €20m, the scheme will comprise 66 houses and eight apartment units and includes the provision of a crèche and 150 car parking spaces. The Business Post, 28th December

Mahon, Cork Works are under way on the construction of 59 residential units at the Crawford Centre at Jacob’s Island in Ballinure, Mahon in Cork. The €45m scheme consists of 413 apartments with ancillary tenant amenity and management facilities, a neighbourhood centre consisting of a creche and three retail units. The Business Post, 28th December

Fishamble Street, Dublin 8 A long-derelict site on Dublin’s Fishamble Street, which has been the subject of several failed housing projects in the last decade, is to be redeveloped for social housing by the Peter McVerry Trust. The charity will this year seek planning permission for a block of 10 apartments on the site of 29 and 30 Fishamble Street, previously occupied by two 18th century buildings, but vacant and derelict since the mid-20th century. The charity plans to build 10 apartments planned in a six-storey block, a similar height to apartments immediately north of the site. The total cost of the project is €4.3m. The Irish Times, 2nd January

Broadstone, Dublin 7 A €44.5m regeneration of Dublin City Council’s Constitution Hill flat complex, which will increase the number of homes by 40% without demolishing any of the existing flats, is to begin this year. The complex of 89 flats, built in three blocks in the late 1960s opposite the King’s Inns building at Broadstone, is seen by the council as an “iconic” example of social housing of its period. While there have been proposals to demolish the complex over the years, the council has decided to retain the three five-storey blocks but extend them with an additional floor on top of each building. It will also build two new seven-storey apartment blocks on the site and 10 two-storey houses, resulting in a total of 124 homes at an average cost of just under €360k each. The project is the council’s first big retrofit scheme under a plan announced two years ago to bring c. 8k of its older flats up to mandatory EU energy standards. Construction is expected to begin in November and is due to be completed by mid-2027. The Irish Times, 7th January

Appian Way, Dublin 4 A subsidiary of Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) has lost out in a €315k vacant site levy row with Dublin City Council concerning a disputed €4.5m site at the junction of Appian Way on the city’s southside. An Bord Pleanála dismissed RGRE J and R Appian Valery’s Ltd appeal against Dublin City Council’s site levy charge of €315k – or 7% of the 0.227 acre site value for 2020. The firm appealed the ‘demand for payment notice’ to An Bord Pleanála for the site where RGRE has plans to construct a 10-storey, 44-unit built-to-rent scheme. In relation to the appeal of the site levy charge, RGRE did not dispute that the site was vacant in 2020 but disputed the council’s €4.5m valuation. The firm stated that it purchased the site in October 2018 for €2.45m and a valuation from March 2021 put a value between €3m to €3.25m. The Irish Times, 6th January

Raheny, Dublin 5 Dublin City Council has refused planning permission to Tetrarch Capital for a 78-unit ‘over-65s’ scheme on lands around the 18th century protected structure, Sybil Hill House. The Tetrarch ‘senior living’ scheme involves three blocks, one rising to five storeys tall, on the Vincentian order-owned land located c. 150m from an entrance to St Anne’s Park and beside St Paul’s College secondary school in Raheny. The Irish Times, 5th January

Townsend Street, Dublin 2 The regeneration of one of Dublin’s oldest flat complexes is to begin this month, c. eight years after it was sanctioned by the Department of Housing, and 12 years since the complex was vacated. The Peter McVerry Trust is to refurbish the 100-year-old flat complex at 181-187 Townsend Street, near College Green, to provide 20 permanent homes for homeless adults. The charity received initial approval in 2015 to redevelop the Dublin City Council flat complex. The project has since been beset by delays and its original budget has more than doubled from €1.7m to €3.6m. Work on the 20 flats is scheduled to begin on January 16th and is scheduled for completion in 15 months. The Irish Times, 5th January

Dún Laoghaire, South Co Dublin Bartra Capital has started to advertise its first shared living units in Ireland at €1,880 a month, which is nearly €800 more than it told planning authorities the units would cost to rent. This type of scheme was banned in 2020, but the ban does not impact developments that had already secured planning permission prior to its introduction. In 2019, when Bartra applied for permission to build shared living units in Ireland, the Dublin Inquirer reported that documents produced by the developer said bedrooms would cost between €1,083 and €1,300 a month to rent, including bills and amenities. The Business Post, 7th January

Ires Reit said demand for its properties far outweighed supply last year as the residential rental market remained strong. The company, which has a portfolio of c. 4k homes, said it had an occupancy rate of 99.4% at the end of December, with an average rent of €1.75k. Ires Reit said this was c. 13% below average rent levels for new tenancies in Dublin, based on the RTB figures for Q2 2022. The property company added 238 units during the year across a number of developments and disposed of 128 units at Hampton Wood at a 3.5% yield. The Irish Times, 10th January

First Home Scheme The State’s scheme for helping first-time buyers to bridge the gap between what they can pay for a home and the price of a property has been “playing catch-up” with rising house prices. Michael Broderick, the chief executive of the First Home Scheme (FHS), made the remarks as he provided an update on its work in 2022. Applications by some 750 buyers have been approved since the launch of FHS last July with the value of the State support sought coming to €57.6 million. The average purchase price for homes already bought under the scheme is €370k with the average level of support provided by the State in the form of shared equity coming in at €71k or 19%. There are price ceilings for properties that can be bought under the scheme and these are reviewed every six months to reflect changes in property prices. Changes were made from January 1st which increased the price ceiling for houses that could be bought under the scheme by €25k up to €475k in Dublin, Cork City and Wicklow. The Irish Times, 9th January



Waterford Quays The spend on consultants’ fees have doubled to more than €8m at the Waterford quays redevelopment project. A local auditor report for Waterford City and County Council found €32m has been spent so far on the project, which has a deficit of more than €11m. Work has yet to start on the development, which has been plagued by a series of false starts. Funding for the current project was announced in 2018, and the council had previously agreed a deal with a Saudi-based developer to progress the site. However, last year the council said the firm could not meet the funding requirements for the project and terminated the deal. In November, Harcourt Developments was announced as the latest developer of the site. It is hoped that work will now start in March and finish in 2025. The Business Post, 10th January

Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2 The Office of Public Works has approved planning permission for a €37m National Children’s Science Centre at the National Concert Hall in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. The 103,118 sq. ft development will include the refurbishment and conservation of the existing concert hall and the change of use of the former UCD School of Civil Engineering to the National Children’s Science Centre. Construction work is expected to start in late 2023 and will take 24 months to complete. The Business Post, 28th December

Liberties, Dublin 8 Dublin City Council has ordered Ballymore, the property development company, to conduct a comprehensive survey of an underground train track and tunnel system beneath St James’s Gate before it can proceed with the first phase of its €1bn Guinness Quarter project. Last month, the firm was provisionally given permission to proceed with a plan to convert the Brewhouse 2 building on the Guinness campus in the Liberties area of Dublin into a new office building. The Business Post, 31st December

Galway IDA Ireland is seeking tenders from contractors to build a €15m, 48,136 sq. ft advanced technology unit at IDA Parkmore Business & Technology in Galway. The works will provide the IDA with office space and a production area and will include associated car parking, site services, landscaping and associated works with additional lands adjoining the offices site with an opportunity for future extension. Works are expected to take c. 18 months to complete. The Business Post, 28th December

Development Sector In a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, Donald MacDonald of Hooke & MacDonald stated that “the funding model for development of apartments is broken”. According to the author, construction costs have increased to unprecedented levels over the last four years. Also, as highlighted by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in their July 2022 Construction Tender Price Index report, the construction industry is reportedly “near peak capacity”, and as a result increasing new supply further will be a challenge, and so it is not surprising that apartment commencements are not following consents. The Author also noted that historically land price was seen as c. 33% of the GDV. Owing to numerous factors relating to rising costs over recent years the land price for apartment schemes is probably now down to between 8% and 10% of the development value. However, where land has a planning permission secured there is very little to be gained in just sitting on the land, especially where build costs are continuously increasing. Owner-occupiers cannot fund new apartment development, small investors have left the market and developers have had to rely on the Irish taxpayer or large institutional investors to fund and make viable the limited amount of apartments that have been developed over the past five years. The Irish Times, 27th December


If you have an article which you would like to have considered for inclusion in our next weekly report, please contact us at info@origincapital.ie

Origin Capital funds senior debt transactions in the CRE investment sector, typically in excess of €3m, and has lent over €200m to clients since April 2015.

Origin Capital is a wholly owned subsidiary of LeBruin, a leading provider of corporate finance solutions.

If you would like to discuss how Origin Capital can help with your funding requirements, please contact us on 01 662 9264.