15th August (Issue 410)

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.



North Wall Quay, Dublin 1 A consortium led by Oaktree Capital Management has launched a Dublin office for sale with a price tag of €155m. Targeted Investment Opportunities – a joint venture incorporating Oaktree, Nama and Irish construction firm Bennett – has instructed JLL to sell North Dock. North Dock, a recently constructed development, provides 200,000 sq. ft of grade A office space across two blocks on North Wall Quay, beside the 3 Arena. The guide price reflects a capital value of €775 per sq. ft with approx. 50% of the asset leased so far. Current tenants include Blueface, a cloud-based telecommunications company that leased 15,000 sq. ft, and Gilead Sciences, a Californian pharma firm – which signed up for 30,000 sq. ft at the scheme in 2020. React News, 9th August

Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2 Iput is facing opposition to its plans to demolish Deloitte House and Garryland House on Dublin’s Earlsfort Terrace and replace the buildings with a nine-storey office block. Hibernia Real Estate Group – the former Hibernia Reit – and aircraft leasing giant AirLease Corporation have both lodged objections against the proposed 339,892 sq. ft office space. Manahan Planners, acting for AirLease Corporation which has its Irish HQ at 22, 22a and 23 Earlsfort Terrace along with subsidiary ALC Aircraft Ltd, called on Dublin City Council to refuse planning permission for the development. Hibernia Real Estate Group owns the nearby Hardwicke House and Montague House, and on its behalf IMG Planning says the scheme as currently planned will have a significant and adverse impact on its two properties. The Irish Times, 14th August



West Portfolio, West Dublin M7 Real Estate has taken its Irish industrial platform to north of €500m with the acquisition of a portfolio from Davy. The investment manager – which has one of the largest logistics portfolios in Ireland – has bought the West portfolio from Davy Real Estate for €22.25m (NIY approx. 6%; €120 per sq. ft). The West portfolio comprises 11 assets, totalling 187,441 sq. ft. The properties are located in core urban logistics locations in west Dublin. React News, 9th August

WeWork Shares in WeWork plummeted as much as 36% after it expressed “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue operating. The company cited sustained losses and cancelled memberships to its office spaces amid a slow post-pandemic return to workplaces in major urban centres. WeWork, which went public in 2021, is one of the biggest individual tenants in Dublin. It operates at four locations. It is the anchor tenant at the 120,000 sq. ft former Central Bank of Ireland building on Dame Street, now known as Central Plaza, as well as the 100,000 sq. ft Dublin Landings 2 building in the docklands. In addition, it has locations at Harcourt Road and the Charlemont Exchange near the Grand Canal. The Irish Times, 9th August



Conrad Dublin Performance A return to normal trading conditions following the lifting of tough public health restrictions saw the company behind the Conrad Dublin hotel bounce back into the black last year after losing more than €3.6m in 2021. The hotel, which was sold to Dutch-anchored hotel investor Archer Hotel Capital in 2019 for a reported €118m, generated profits of €2.5m in 2022, a significant turnaround from its 2021 loss. Its cash reserves swelled from €4.6m in 2021 to more than €11m at the end of December 2022. Turnover at the 175-bedroom hotel surged more than 360% to €18.5m, near pre-Covid levels, from €5.1m in 2021 when the hotel was closed between April and July. The Irish Times, 10th August



Swords, North Co Dublin Fingal County Council has emerged as the winning bidder for a 62-acre site with the potential for more than 1,000 homes in Swords, North Co Dublin. It is thought the local authority has paid €40m (€40k per site) for the land, which does not have planning permission but is zoned residential. The site, which came on the market in March through CBRE, is located on the Rathbeale Road, beside Swords community college and less than 2km from the village. The Sunday Times, 13th August

Construction Report There were 520 fewer housing units being built in Dublin in the first three months of this year than in the same period of 2022, according to the latest data from the Dublin Housing Supply Coordination Task Force. The drop in construction came as the number of planned units grew substantially YoY. The task force found 17,483 units were under construction in the first quarter, a 2.9% reduction on 2022. The data showed the number of apartments under construction has now been greater than houses for three consecutive years in Dublin. The latest report from the Government agency also showed an increase of 18,303, or approx. one fifth, to 113,070 in the cumulative number of housing units allowed and proposed under current Dublin planning applications when compared to the first quarter of 2022. It found 55,582 extant planning permissions which had yet to begin construction in the first quarter, up 13.7% on a year earlier. The Irish Times, 11th August

BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland Report The recovery in construction appeared to stall in July as new orders fell and inflationary pressures picked up again, posing a renewed challenge to the Government’s housing targets. The latest Purchasing Managers Index for construction published by BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland pointed to a renewed decline in activity in July – it had increased in June – as demand faltered. The decline was broad-based across the three monitored categories, housing, commercial and civil engineering, it said. The company’s report also highlighted an acceleration in input-cost inflation. The company’s latest headline index, which measures construction activity, fell to 45.6 in July from 50.4 in June, dropping back below the 50 threshold, which signals a contraction in activity. The reading was consistent with the data on new orders, which signalled a first reduction in six months, it said. BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland Report, 14th August

Social and Affordable Homes Supply The Government is discussing moves to divert as much as €8bn from the new sovereign wealth fund into housing, as part of a fresh push to boost the supply of social and affordable homes. The money would go to the State-controlled LDA as it enters new partnerships with private developers to build on public and private land. The plan has not yet received Government approval. But it reflects the view that “multiples” of the LDA’s original €1.25bn budget will be needed to tackle the housing crisis and that building costs will only rise if the agency borrows on private markets to fund its operations. Now Mr. O’Brien is staking a claim to deploy anywhere between €4bn and €8bn of that fund into the agency, whose original budget is fully committed to current housing projects. The Irish Times, 14th August

Milltown, South Dublin Dublin City Council has granted planning permission to Ardstone for a €300m ‘buy-to-sell’ apartment scheme near Milltown in South Dublin. The city council has given the green light to Ardstone subsidiary Sandford Living Ltd’s 636-unit Large Scale Residential Scheme (LRD) application for Milltown Park, Sandford Road, Dublin, despite strong local opposition. The scheme is to be made up of 87 studios, 227 one-bed units, 296 two-bed units and 26 three-bed units across seven apartment blocks, with one rising to 10 storeys. The Irish Times, 11th August

Landlord Exodus Landlords issued 5,735 notices of termination to tenants in the second quarter of 2023, according to new data published by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). As well as showing an overall increase in the amount of notices, the new data appears to indicate a growing appetite by landlords to offload rental properties. Approx. 1,000 fewer termination notices (4,753) were issued in the first quarter of the year, between January and March inclusive. According to the RTB, the majority of landlords in the second quarter (3,633 or 63%) cited their intention to sell the property as their reason for issuing the notice. In Dublin, where pressure in the rental sector is particularly acute, 2,298 notices of termination were issued during the second quarter, a rise of 14% on the first three months of the year. The Irish Times, 10th August

Daft Report Rents continued to rise nationally in the second quarter but “stabilised” in Dublin, according to the new data from the Daft.ie website. The company’s latest quarterly rent report, which is based on asking prices on its website, indicated that market rents rose by an average of 2.4% between April and June compared with the first three months of the year. Compared to a year ago rents rose 10.7% to stand at just under €1.8k per month on average, it said. This compares to €1,387 in the first quarter of 2020 and a low of just €765 per month seen in late 2011. Daft’s report noted that availability nationally remains “extremely tight” compared to other years, with fewer than 1,200 homes available to rent nationwide on its website as of August 1st. While the supply of rental homes has increased marginally in recent months, it said the “extraordinary shortage” of rental accommodation continues. The Irish Times, 10th August

Zoning Decisions Councillors in Co Clare have been directed to reverse 20 zoning decisions in the County Development Plan after an intervention by the office of the planning regulator and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning. Minister of State at the department Kieran O’Donnell issued a direction to the local authority over the weekend instructing it to revert lands to their original zoning, which was mainly agriculture. Many of the rezoning decisions were around the villages of Broadford and Cooraclare. However, Clare County Council chairman Cllr Joe Cooney and local Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe have argued there were strong and compelling reasons behind the decisions of councillors with regard to zoning decisions in the areas concerned. They said both villages were in line to get adequate wastewater treatment facilities that would allow them to grow. They said the rezoning decision was in anticipation of those facilities being approved by the Department of Housing this year. The Irish Times, 10th August

Kinsale, Co Cork A planning row has broken out over plans by the owner of one of Cork’s best-known golf courses to develop luxury holiday apartments which local residents claim will cause “irreversible damage to a beautiful quiet area”. Several local families have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of Cork County Council to grant planning permission for the construction of “farmhouse” tourist accommodation at Ballymackean, Old Head, Kinsale, Co Cork. The apartments are being developed by Ashbourne Holdings, the owner of the nearby Old Head of Kinsale golf course. The company has secured permission to demolish an existing farmhouse and agricultural buildings on the 16.5-acre site and replace them with four, single-storey “farmhouse” apartment units each containing four ensuite bedrooms as well as a two-storey “barn” containing a further two holiday apartments. A ruling by An Bord Pleanála on the appeal is due in early December. The Journal, 14th August

Vacant Site Tax Planners have rejected dozens of appeals against a new tax on vacant housing sites, in a blow to landowners seeking exemptions from a Government clampdown against hoarding. This will have implications for developers Cairn, Glenveagh, Castlethorn, Quintain, O’Flynn Group, Hammerson, Hibernia, Kelland, Ardstone, Bovale and many others. All have appeals pending after local councils said idle land in their control should be taxed. But new data reveals how An Bord Pleanála dismissed the overwhelming majority of appeals already concluded, deeming local authority tax maps robust in such cases. Rulings in 542 cases fall due within weeks, with An Bord Pleanála saying it “will endeavour to finalise as many” as possible by the September 1st target. The board is the final RZLT decision-maker but landowners can still take a High Court judicial review case against rulings. The annual 3% surcharge on the market value of unused land will be levied next year in a bid to discourage hoarding. The Irish Times, 15th August



Smithfield, Dublin 7 The development of a purpose-built family court on a vacant site at Hammond Lane in Smithfield is facing major delays, with construction not expected to start before 2026. The development of the new court complex, expected to cost more than €100m, has been dogged by delays since the site was acquired by the State in the late 1990s. The Office of Public Works (OPW) bought the site of the Maguire and Paterson match factory at the corner of Hammond Lane and Church Street for €4m, outbidding several residential and office developers. In December 2014 the then minister for justice said the complex would be delivered as part of a public-private partnership, with expected completion in 2020 at a cost of approx. €40m. However, early in 2019 the scope of the project changed, with a new Supreme Court facility added and the expected cost jumped to €140m. The Department of Justice had budgeted a maximum of €80m for the project. In mid-2020 the decision was taken not to proceed with the Supreme Court element, bringing the costs back down to €80m. However, construction inflation since then means the project is likely to cost more than €100m. The Irish Times, 11th August

New Refugee Housing Protocol Student accommodation must have been vacant for a year before it is converted for use for housing refugees and asylum seekers, under a new protocol agreed by the Government. It follows reports that purpose-built student accommodation in Sligo had been set to be converted to house those fleeing here from troublespots around the world. The provision of extra student beds as part of the refugee accommodation effort has been a feature of the last two summers, when colleges are out of term time and the need for dedicated student accommodation is significantly lessened. The Irish Times, 9th August

Dublin Airport The state’s competition watchdog has escalated its investigation into the controversial purchase by the DAA of a 6,000-space car park beside Dublin airport. In a statement issued, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said it had come to the end of its Phase 1, or preliminary investigation, and would now raise that to a Phase 2 in-depth investigation. The CCPC will not be investigating the manner in which the deal was transacted, only the possible competition effects. The Business Post, 9th August

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) has secured the green light for a new €50m Anglesea Stand for its arena at Ballsbridge in Dublin. Dublin City Council has granted planning permission for the 6,775 capacity stand after its planner concluded that the new stand “would provide a modern stand facility with enhanced hospitality facilities for visitors and patrons”. No objections were lodged against the new application and a cost-benefit analysis lodged with the plan estimates that the new stand will deliver an estimated additional €254m in tourism revenues over a 25-year period. The application involves the demolition of the existing Anglesea Stand and Anglesea Terrace and the new stand is to consist of three levels along with a two-storey hospitality building. Subject to planning and funding the RDS aims to commence construction in August 2024. The Irish Times, 14th August

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