Re: Re: hawkins house

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OPW joint ventures to develop State sites for €125m
Martin Wall, Industry Correspondent

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has entered into joint ventures with the private sector for the development of three State-owned sites in Dublin city centre which it said could generate up to €125 million for the exchequer.

Under the deals the State will receive a percentage of the rental income from the redeveloped sites.

OPW chairman Seán Benton said the largest site was Hawkins House, the current headquarters of the Department of Health, while the others were at Hatch Street and O’Connell Street.

He said the estimated €125 million in income from the joint ventures would be in addition to about €400 million raised from the sale of assets in recent years.

The money is likely to be used to offset the €900 million bill for the provision of new State offices around the country under the decentralisation programme.

Meanwhile Minister of State at the OPW Noel Ahern said unless there was a breakthrough on recruitment or on allowing staff in State agencies to transfer from one body to another, this element of the decentralisation plan would take longer to achieve.

The Minister described the Government’s initial four-year target for implementing the decentralisation plan as “unrealisable”.

However, he said it had “acted as a catalyst and made things happen”.

An OPW spokesman said last night the projected income stream from the joint ventures, worth €125 million at net present values, was substantially more than could have been accrued if the sites had been sold.

Mr Benton said the Hatch Street premises, currently used by OPW engineers, would be developed, probably mainly for offices, in partnership with a company which owned land at nearby Earlsfort Terrace.

He said the sites on O’Connell Street which were now “half-empty shop fronts” would be included in plans for a large shopping development at the old Carlton site.

Mr Ahern said the State was only putting its sites into the deals and not cash.

Details of the joint ventures emerged at an OPW press conference yesterday to announce a deal to have offices for 1,500 staff moving to Portlaoise, Mullingar and Carlow under decentralisation provided as part of a public/private partnership.

A consortium, the Macquarie Partnership, won the tender for the project. It will design, finance, build and maintain the offices under a 15-year contract worth up to €140 million.

Mr Ahern said “very significant progress” had been made in the decentralisation programme. Decentralisation for civil servants – about 6,200 staff – would be more or less completed by the end of 2009.

However, the Minister acknowledged that progress was much slower among professional staff and those in the State agencies.

Only about 200 personnel in State agencies have moved so far.

In the summer, the Labour Court effectively ruled out moves by State agencies to use promotions as incentives to encourage staff to transfer.

Mr Ahern said “the hope is that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will get involved and try come up with a solution on a case-by-case basis”.

He said a problem was that staff in State agencies could not readily transfer from one body to another.

Some unions had been “rather anti the whole concept of decentralisation” and he hoped that talks could get under way to deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis.

© 2007 The Irish Times

Bye bye Hawkins House – it’ll be much missed, about as much as a bout of anal cancer.

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