You see, when I read 'innovative' I think $$$$$!!! I have to think of that. I have the responsibility to develop the site on behalf of my mother who is too elderly to do very much. I have to think of her financial best interests and how I can give her the best return possible.
Having spoke to our builder friend he reassures us that we will need to spend tens of thousands of euro before a drop of concrete is poured (thanks Larry!). He also (having been a builder for decades) told me that some architects are to be avoided as they are more interested in winning prizes than delivering the best return for the client. That may sound controversial on a forum with a load of architects...discuss!
Taking the personality out of it the site will have a value based upon what comparable sites have fetched previously and in the current market that certainly will be a small proportion of the gross development value.
The basis of that is that risk aversion has risen dramatically as prices have cooled; the fact that the site is so close to Liffey Valley, Phoenix Park and Kings Hospital will make it a very desirable location given the local amenities.
I would view your position as three entirely different propositions; firstly you may dispose of the site at market value;
Secondly you could enter a JV with a developer structured as follows; you grant an exclusive right to a developer to apply for permission which if successful would lead to a fixed price being payable or a percentage of the gross development value at the point of disposal.
Thirdly you could commission designs from a reputable architectural practice however I would talk to a property consultant involved in mixed use developments to scope which architects to appoint. There is little point in commissioning an architect to design a scheme if it is felt that there would be insufficient demand or that the numbers just wouldn't stack up.
In terms of quality of design there is certainly going to be a higher density if you hire a talented architect and the planners will react much more favourably to something that doesn't look like it is made from lego. In a buyers market purchasers are also more savy on what they will buy and it is felt that the fall off in demand for buy to let purchases predicated on income returns alone have killed off demand for boxes that are fine to rent but you wouldn't live in yourself; this unquestionably has altered the market considerably as many of the buyers of this asset class have moved into small lot UK or European buys where rental returns of 7 - 11% are typical.
My advice; talk to a top 3 property practice to get an opinion and do a JV with a developer who will bear all the risk and insist on decent design satandards to ensure that there is demand for the end product. The most successful developments in Dublin to date for me are Dundrum SC, 69-76 Stephens Green and the former Johnston Mooney and O'Brien scheme at Ballsbridge; all involved higher densities based upon high design standards.