26th July (Issue 357)

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.




Fibonacci Square, Dublin 4 Meta has paused the fitout of Johnny Ronan’s Fibonacci Square development in Dublin as the social media and tech giant re-evaluates its real estate requirements globally. In November 2018 Meta, then trading as Facebook, signed a 25-year lease on the former AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge in a record office deal for the Irish market. The company agreed to lease 360,000 sq. ft. in buildings one and two at Fibonacci Square for an annual rent of €22.5m. Facebook also agreed to rent four blocks of the former AIB Bankcentre’s Serpentine extension, for an annual rent of €17m. It also struck a deal to occupy the central blocks, owned by European investors. It plans to create an 870,000 sq. ft. hub for Europe, the Middle East and Africa with room for 7,000 staff. The company has completed two phases of its fitout with 800 employees now based at the campus and the third phase going ahead as planned. The Fibonacci Square work was to be the fourth phase. The Sunday Times, 24th July



Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2 Colliers is guiding a price of €1.5m for 14 Lower Pembroke Street in Dublin. The property comprises a large four-storey-over-basement building. No. 14 is laid out in a mix of uses with a gym, offices and seven residential units. Pat Henry Fitness occupies the basement at a rent of €16.24k pa and has independent access from Lower Pembroke Street. DLD Accountants and Compass Insurance make up the remainder of the commercial tenants, paying a combined €20.2k pa. The seven residential units are located on the upper floors and are producing €67.3k pa. The guide price of €1.5m equates to a NIY of 6.29% and a capital value of €319 per sq. ft., which is far below the level of €700 per sq. ft. being achieved for prime Georgian opportunities on Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square. The Irish Times, 20th July

Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 QRE Real Estate Advisers has sold 26 Harcourt Street in Dublin 2 for €1.446m. The price is 11.25% in excess of the initial guide price of €1.3m. In total, 25 offers were made between two parties in the online auction powered by Offr. A total of 45 enquiries were received for the property. The property is a mid-terrace four-storey-over-basement Georgian building extending to c. 3,896 sq. ft. The building benefits from educational use following a successful change of use from offices in 2009. It has, until recently, been used as a language school. The property, which is a protected structure, is zoned ‘Z8’ and is suitable for a variety of uses including hotel, medical, office and residential, subject to a successful grant of planning permission. The Business Post, 22nd July



Celbridge, Co Kildare A well-known former Kildare hotel has been commissioned to house up to 350 Ukrainian refugees as the state struggles to find accommodation for overseas arrivals amid a worsening supply shortage. The 66-bed Celbridge Manor Hotel will take in 47 Ukrainian refugees from next Monday, with more families and single adults to be accommodated there in the coming weeks. More than 40k refugees have arrived from Ukraine since war broke out in February, with c. 1.4k arriving each week. The Business Post, 22nd July



Self Storage Units, Dublin An affiliate of Chicago-based investment manager Heitman marked its debut into Ireland’s self-storage sector with the acquisition of a portfolio of six assets. The firm has made a strategic investment into U Store It, a self-storage platform, via the purchase of six facilities across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It plans to build two further flagship developments in Dublin and Belfast. React News, 25th July



North Docklands, Dublin 1 Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) is at advanced stages of discussions with US investment group Ares Management to refinance €150m in debt associated with Spencer Place, the high-end residential scheme it is delivering in Dublin’s north docklands. The proposed deal, which is expected to complete over the coming weeks, will see RGRE’s partner Fortress receive a significant payment arising from the exposure it inherited when it took over the property assets of the developer’s former backer, Colony Capital, last year. The sale of the 403-unit apartment portfolio is not expected to proceed for at least another 18 months. According to market sources, RGRE and Fortress have agreed that the Spencer Place scheme, which is nearing completion, should be let and occupied first, before being offered to the market. The Irish Times, 20th July

Foxrock, Dublin 18 The Netherlands is seeking to take a judicial review against An Bord Pleanála over a planned residential development beside its ambassador’s residence in Foxrock in Dublin. In May, the planning body rejected an appeal by the Dutch embassy against the development. It granted the housebuilder Richmond Homes permission to build 36 apartments, in a block of four to five storeys, and 21 houses. A previous application by Richmond Homes in 2019 was rejected by An Bord Pleanála. The developer had since agreed to locate the apartment block further away from the ambassador’s property. The Sunday Times, 25th July 

Build-To-Rent, Dublin Ardstone Capital has invested c. €230m across two build-to-rent transactions as deals continue to flow in Ireland’s residential market. The investor is forward funding 321 units at Magna Drive, Citywest, Dublin 24 for a price of c. €122m. The site is being developed by listed housebuilder Glenveagh Homes. Through a forward commit deal, Ardstone has also purchased 252 units in the same area of Dublin at St Edmunds for €105m. In May last year CBRE Global Investment Partners (GIP), investing on behalf of several of its clients, made a €450m commitment to a fund launched by Ardstone to target social and affordable housing assets in Dublin. React News, 22nd July 

Dundrum, Dublin 16 An Bord Pleanála has deferred making a decision on contentious plans for a €466m, 881-unit apartment scheme that a subsidiary of British property giant Hammerson is proposing to build in Dundrum. The board last week wrote to parties to inform them that “unfortunately, it has not been possible to determine this case within the statutory period”. A subsidiary of Hammerson, Dundrum Retail GP, had lodged plans for the scheme on April 5th. Planning law provides for the appeals board to issue a decision 16 weeks after plans have been lodged. The Dundrum scheme was one of 12 SHD decisions due for decision on Monday. The board deferred decisions relating to all the cases — which comprise 5,108 residential units — as it struggles to meet the timelines laid down by the SHD legislation. The board has also deferred a decision on plans by the Land Development Agency for 977 residential units at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. The Irish Times, 25th July 

Cork A developer whose permission to build 216 student accommodation units in Cork City is under legal challenge appears to have abandoned the project, the High Court has heard. A local association brought a judicial review action against An Bord Pleanála’s 2020 approval for the scheme near the main campus of University College Cork. The judge adjourned the matter until October, with agreement that the parties would communicate about options for how to proceed. In its action against the board, the Attorney General, Ireland, and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the residents’ group claims the planning permission is flawed and breached fair procedures. The Irish Times, 25th July 

Hammerson Scheme, Dublin City Centre Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has lodged a planning appeal against the third phase of Hammerson’s €500m transformation plan for Dublin city centre. In total, the planning board has now received nine third-party appeals against the Hammerson scheme, while the Dublin Central GP Ltd has lodged a first-party appeal against conditions attached to the permission. The latest phase of the scheme involves demolition of buildings and structures at Moore Street and Moore Lane to accommodate a public plaza along with a mixed-use scheme in a six-storey building. A decision is due on the case in November. But because of the backlog in appeals, it is likely that a decision will not be made until 2023. The Irish Times, 25th July



Dublin Dart Service An application to develop the €1bn Dart+ West project, which will see the electrification of the rail line to Maynooth in Co Kildare, is to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála this week. Irish Rail said Dart services from Connolly/Spencer Dock to Maynooth and to M3 Parkway, Co Meath, could start operating by 2029 pending the outcome of the planning process. The railway order application is to be lodged on Friday and will be followed by a statutory public consultation period from August 5th to September 30th. It is expected the planning board will hold a public hearing on the project. The Irish Times, 25th July

Building Cost Inflation Building costs are rising at their fastest pace in two decades as energy and materials come under increased pressure, a new report warns. Construction price inflation rose 7.5% in the first six months of 2022, according to figures from the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland. The organisation says this is the highest six-month increase recorded since it began tracking costs in 1998. The figure overtakes the 7.4% recorded in the second half of 2000. Combining the new record with the almost as steep rise in costs over the second half of last year brought the annual rate at the end of June to 14% and to a record 22% over 18 months. The Irish Times, 22ndJuly

University of Limerick The Dáil’s spending watchdog has sought special powers to compel the University of Limerick (UL) to release the contents of an independent investigation into its controversial €8m purchase of a derelict site in the city centre. UL has been subject to ongoing controversy over its decision to buy the former Dunnes Stores site on Sarsfield Bridge, after it emerged that no independent valuation had been carried out into the plot before it was purchased, and that the site had previously been valued at just €3m by Limerick City and County Council. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been seeking access to an independent report investigating the purchase, commissioned by UL and conducted by KPMG, for nearly a year. But the university has refused to release it, citing legal issues relating to a High Court action taken by its former chief operating officer. The Business Post, 22nd July

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