BEN Dunne has struck a deal with the Presentation Brothers to buy their former playing fields in Glasthule, Co Dublin where he intends to build a fitness centre.
Mr Dunne said he has exchanged contracts on the 4.3 acre site on Hudson Road, and is paying "more than the asking price" of â‚¬5 million.
However, because it is religious land, the deal must be approved by the Representative Church Body before it is finalised.
The site, which has 160 metres of road frontage, only went on the market last month. It is zoned objective "F" which makes it suitable for a range of uses, including sports and recreational.
Despite the size of the site, Dunne says he intends to roll out "the same format" as his other fitness centres. He currently has three centres in Dublin - Westpoint in Blanchardstown, Carlisle in Terenure and Northwood in Santry - and has plans to open one in Carlow next year. Dunne hopes the Glasthule gym will open in 2010 and, while he envisages some opposition to his plans in the area, he says his experience is "people are more than happy to have these facilities in their area", adding that he will be offering membership for "far less" than other competing gyms in the area. Look out Crunch in DÃºn Laoghaire.
The Presentation Brothers, who closed its school in Glasthule last year, is believed to be selling the land to fund the upkeep of their remaining schools here and in Africa, and for the care of elderly members of the order.
In March the High Court overturned a decision by DÃºn Laoghaire Rathdown County Council aimed at preserving the lands as playing fields.
The order challenged a decision of the council's elected members to approve a variation in its development plan to preserve the site as playing fields. The judge noted DÃºn Laoghaire-Rathdown Council had conceded its decision on the lands was unlawful and the brothers only learned of it by chance from a leaflet distributed by a local councillor
Dartmouth square it ain't but this is still a nice open space and public amenity. Bound to get a tonne of objections _ I'd like to see the scheme though as there's no way he can cover the whole place with a gym,
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