16th August (Issue 360)

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.




Ringsend, Dublin 2 Blackstone has secured a €90m+ sale of an office in Dublin that is home to Google and Pfizer. French investor Corum Asset Management has agreed a deal to buy the Watermarque, a fully leased 107,500 sq. ft. office block in the South Docks. CBRE had been instructed to sell the Watermarque building by Blackstone, which is 80% leased to Google and Pfizer but also home to Unipol and News UK, off a circa €100m guide price. Blackstone, after acquiring the property through the purchase of Starwood’s €535m Cedar portfolio, invested significant capex to upgrade the asset. The asset provides a WAULT of c. seven years to breaks and a little less than 10 years to expiry. Pfizer didn’t exercise a recent break option, committing to another 10 years. The average passing rent of the building is €47 per sq. ft. React News, 16th August

Sandyford, Dublin 18 Cubic Telecom has taken out a long-term lease for c. 30,000 sq. ft. of Sandyford office building The Hive, in what is the second-largest office letting in the Dublin suburbs this year. The letting, by HWBC to the Irish software company, includes an option to expand. The former Ballymoss House was redeveloped into The Hive by developer U+I and partners Colony Capital, with the project completed in 2019. 26,000 sq. ft. of office space remains available in the building. The Irish Times, 15th August



Debenhams Stores, Cork and Dublin Two buildings in Dublin and Cork previously occupied by British retail giant Debenhams are now on the market for a combined €75m. Receivers Grant Thornton were appointed by Bank of Ireland earlier this year to oversee the sale of the properties, and property group Cushman & Wakefield has now been appointed as agent for the sales. Both properties have remained empty since Debenhams shut the stores in May 2020. The Henry Street building comprises four-storeys over a basement directly opposite the Arnotts department store. It encompasses c. 210,000 sq. ft. with 60m of frontage on to Henry Street. The property occupies a site area of c. one acre and is guiding €55m. As part of this sale, there is an existing licence with Zara which has traded on the site since 2003. It currently occupies c. 20,000 sq. ft. at ground and second floor level with additional storage on the third floor.
The building in Cork extends to c. 153,000 sq. ft., primarily comprising retail, ancillary stores, staff accommodation and plant rooms. The overall site extends to c. 1.2 acres. It is guiding €20m on the property. The Irish Times, 10th August

Grafton Street, Dublin 2 Paul Sheeran Jewellers has agreed a deal with investment group Hines to lease the entire ground floor of a new Chatham & King development off Grafton Street, where he plans to sell watches from some of the biggest luxury watch brands. This will involve a €4m investment by Sheeran and the watch manufacturers for units covering more than 7,000 sq. ft. on 10-year leases. The Chatham & King portfolio comprises more than 106,000 sq. ft. of prime retail and offices space as well as six residential units. It is owned and managed by the Hines European Core Fund (HECF). Tenants include global data analytics management firm Qualtrics, and retailers Zara and H&M. The Irish Times, 12th August



Staycity Aparthotel, Dublin City Centre Bain Capital, an American private equity fund, has sold a 340-unit Staycity aparthotel in Dublin city centre to Song Capital Partners, a UK and European investment firm, for €100m. The deal is one of the largest stand-alone real estate sales in the hospitality sector since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The aparthotel, on Little Mary Street in the markets area of Dublin’s north inner city, is due to start trading on September 5 and will be operated on a 25-year lease by Staycity. The acquisition is London-based Song Capital’s first purchase in the Irish market. The Sunday Times, 14th August

Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork A planning application has been lodged by a Cork hospitality group to transform the former Brennan’s Cookshop on Oliver Plunkett Street into a new wine bar. Phoenix Street Social Ltd, which is directed by Cork publican Benny McCabe, lodged an application with Cork City Council this week seeking permission to make changes to the building. According to the application, the group wishes to open a wine bar and art gallery at the 7 Oliver Plunkett St premises. If permission is granted for the new Oliver Plunkett St plan, it would bring the number of the group’s developments in Cork City to nearly 20. The proposal is in pre-validation with the council, with a decision expected by early October. The Irish Examiner, 12th August

Waterville, Co Kerry Press Up group has acquired the Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville, Co Kerry, for an undisclosed amount. Located on the seafront in the picturesque village on the Ring of Kerry coastline, the 60-bedroom hotel has been in operation for more than 100 years under four generations of the Huggard family, who recently made the decision to sell the property. The Business Post, 13th August



Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park, Dublin 17 Dublin City Council has approved an application made by Amazon through Colliers Properties for permission to construct two new data centres on a 9.27-acre site in Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park. The new data centres will be housed in two new two-storey buildings which will have a gross floor area respectively of 138,585 sq. ft. and 15,554 sq. ft. on a site of the former Ricoh building which is earmarked for demolition. The larger building will have two additional mezzanine levels. Amazon has estimated that between 15 and 58 staff will work at the data centres over a 24-hour period, while up to 400 staff will be employed during the construction phase of the project. Through the use of an innovative cooling solution, Amazon said the two new data centres would use as little as 264,000 litres of water for cooling annually. The Irish Independent, 14th August



Merrion Road, Dublin 4 Ires Reit has taken delivery of 69 apartments at the Tara View scheme in Merrion Road, Dublin 4, for €47.1m. Ires Reit announced that it has completed the purchase of the residential units delivered by a subsidiary of Dalata Hotels Group as part of its redevelopment of the old Tara Towers Hotel site. First announced in 2018, Ires Reit said on Monday that the deal for Tara View — which includes 69 apartments, town houses and car park spaces — closed at the original price settled upon when the forward purchase agreement was signed four years ago. It is expected to generate a gross yield on cost of 5.6%. The Irish Times, 15th August

Kinsale Road, Cork A High Court challenge has been brought against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for over 600 new residential units in Cork. The challenge relates to the board’s decision of June 16th last to grant permission for the construction of over 560 apartments and 48 town house apartments, a creche and associated works at the former CMP Dairy Site, known as Creamfields, near Kinsale Road and Tramore Road in Cork. The proposed development consists of c. 12 buildings with one 15 storeys in height, with two others being nine storeys tall. The matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds at the High Court. The judge adjourned the action to a date in October, when the new legal term commences. The Irish Times, 10th August

Terenure, Dublin 6W Dublin City Council has refused planning permission for a seven-storey, 364-unit, build-to-rent apartment scheme on former playing pitches at Terenure College in Dublin. The Carmelite Order – which runs Terenure College and owns the substantial landbank at the college – had said the development would help secure the future viability of the college. The plan by Lioncor – which also includes 21 houses which would be sold – comprises four apartment blocks rising to seven storeys in height and are made up of 15 studios, 166 one-bed apartments, 174 two-bed apartments and nine three-bed units. However, the council has refused planning permission to the Large Scale Residential Development (LRD) application after 240 objections were lodged. The Irish Times, 15th August

Ballycullen, South Dublin A Celtic Tiger-era apartment development in south Dublin is facing possible enforcement procedures from Dublin Fire Brigade. The 200-unit Hunterswood complex in Ballycullen, south Dublin, is a large development consisting of houses, apartment blocks and duplexes, with c. 655-units in total, and c. 2,000 residents. An independent consultant examined a number of the apartment blocks, known as Hunters Hall, and the duplex apartments, in November 2020 and concluded that there were several shortcomings which related to regulations around the means of escape and the internal fire spread, as set out in the main fire safety regulation. The development was in the news in 2018 when it emerged that the balconies on some of the apartments had decayed and become unsafe to stand on, requiring them to be replaced. According to market sources, the cost of fixing the balconies is estimated at c. €2m, but that most have not been completed, due to a lack of funds. The cost of remedying the fire safety breaches could be between €6m and €8m. The Business Post, 13th August



BNP ROI Construction PMI Activity in Ireland’s construction sector fell for a second month in a row in July amid sharply rising costs and a drop-off in demand. The company’s July purchasing managers’ index (PMI) indicates that overall activity across the residential, civil engineering and commercial construction sub-sectors declined last month. The decline in activity was most notable in the residential sector. Housing activity declined “substantially” in July following an only marginal fall in June, according to John McCartney, Director & Head of Research at BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland. Commercial projects saw the slowest fall in activity but the rate of contraction was still “marked overall” and accelerated from June to July. New orders decreased across the board for the fourth month in a row. Builders also sought to rein spending against a backdrop of sharply rising input prices, reducing their purchasing in July. On a more positive note, the rate of inflation fell to a 15-month low in July. Employment levels within the construction sector also remained relatively stable in July, Mr. McCartney said. BNP ROI Construction PMI, 15th August

Vacant Sites, Ireland New records show local authorities told the Department of Housing that loopholes in the vacant site levy rules have allowed owners to avoid c. €40m worth of levies since 2018. The levy commenced as a 3% penalty on the value of the land, due at the beginning of each year, and rose to 7% in January 2020. In total, €54.6m in levies have been issued to landowners since 2018, however, following successful appeals against the fines, only €43.9m worth of these levies are still valid. The documents show that local authorities have collected €4m worth of levies and that €39.9m of valid levies are still outstanding. When the vacant site levy rules were first introduced, local authorities identified more than €167.4m worth of unused property in 2018. The value of vacant property being tracked in Ireland reached a high of €292.5m at the beginning of 2021. The most recent records show there is now €175.4m worth of vacant property being monitored. The Business Post, 13th August

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