Re: Re: The Question of Land

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2. People on the minimum wage or social welfare tend to receive help from the government with accomodation costs or live in pre 63 accomodation or social housing.

There are players outside of Ireland who want to enter the Irish market and change that common perception.

Since 1971, Joe Corcoran and Gary Jennison have developed property in excess of $2.5 billion. They also pioneered the development and management of mixed-income housing – a feat they consider their most rewarding accomplishment.

Today, with Marty Jones as President, Corcoran Jennison has expanded its scope and portfolio to include properties in 15 states, and management of over 24,000 residential units, with 2,000 employees. Our story is one of people, partnerships, communities and success.

To be honest, the country isn’t ready for it.

All the Part Five of the planning act did in Ireland was to introduce something to allow planners to feel noble and superior. Every time we want to do something in Ireland, rather than do it, we put a band aid on the thing. The Part V of the act allowed planners to claim they had fixed it, when they hadn’t fixed it. We are lazy arse holes with rubbish organizational skills and too much money circulating around in the public service. Let’s be honest about that for a change. The housing departments in local authorities do reviews to ‘investigate’ other possible models for housing rent etc. But they don’t want to change a thing. They are like the developers. They like things the way they are. Running a housing departments in a local authority pays out a good wage and the public service isn’t going to see that nest egg compromised for anything. Much less a private company who really knows how to get things done. We made a mistake. We privatised our telecommuications. What we should have done was privatise the housing departments of local authorities and encourage international players to get involved in meeting that demand.

In the heal of the hunt, all the Part V succeeded in doing, was to create bonaza time for planning consultants selling advice. The Celtic Tiger breed of developer was unsophisticated and having pocket fulls of bank credit, were easy targets for those selling Part V advice. That is, the legislation had the unintended consequence, that it removed another piece of authority from well trained design professionals and gave it to guys who had no design credentials who could game the system. The RIAI were too distracted with things like design awards. They were too busy giving rubber medals to each another. They were too stupid to realize they wouldn’t have an arse left in their trousers, when the so-called Part V consultants had run off with their bread and butter.

There is nothing more attractive to an Irish developer than the prospect of being able to defeat some kind of legislation. That commands the ultimate bragging rights. He or she will invest more energy and waste more time doing that than doing what they should be doing. On the other side of the fence, the planners themselves turn into police men and women, guardians of the public good. They turned their career description into that of chasing mean old nasty developers. It makes them feel important to be mixing it with the heavy weights, something to brag about at coffee breaks. What you get is this ridiculous ‘Tom and Gerry’ exercise with no one doing the job they are supposed to be doing. If we had not engaged in that bullshit with Part V, we might have managed to develop a residential rental model by now. All we have are lots of stories about how I got the best of Mr. Developer to make him build S&A units. Or how I got the best of the local authority and didn’t build them.

I mean, I have personally seen people work over two years on a project, simply trying to figure out a way to build it without giving S&A units away. (I can only assume the same was true within the public sector) We need to get away from that bullshit and try to get back some value for our money in Ireland. Otherwise the International Monetary Fund is going to own us. We will be like Moldova trying to fix the pot holes. The S&A units that the local authorities have, they don’t even know what to do with. (Remember that point I made about Eircom privatisation) The local authority defined the problem as, how do we get S&A units out of the mean old nasty developers. The plan didn’t extend as far as, what the hell do we do with them, when we finally have them.

S&A units are equally as complete, un-occupied and toxic as everything else overhanging the market in the private sector. The local authorities did as little to develop an attractive rental model as the private sector did. In fact, they did everything in their power to hold onto their miserable little ‘housing departments’ to keep a few public sector jobs in the local authorities. We haven’t got a building bust in Ireland. What we have is a chronic inability to make use of whatever we do build. We don’t have one single PHd student in the entire country working on this problem. That is why I decided to start the thread about Land Values. To do some preliminary exploration the issue. What are the issues that a proper study might tackle?

In most cases the S&A units are worse, because they were built by mickey mouse consultant architects who win design awards and don’t know how to build things at average market costs. Architects have the bare faced cheek to talk about ‘quality’ of public sector building being better than in the private. It depends on how you define ‘quality’, and I always thought working for developers, that achieving acceptable standards on budget was a good thing. But when I compare my product, to what mickey mouse architects built in the public sector I am shocked and speechless. They used exotic hardwoods like it was wall paper. (I will refrain from naming any projects or consultants)

But if that is how you want to define ‘quality’ then go ahead and say public sector buildings are a higher quality. But don’t try to compare what mickey mouse is doing in mickey mouse public housing schemes, with what the private sector was doing in the real world. Architects use all kinds of crap about ‘design’ and ‘space’ to conceal the fact that they haven’t a clue about building or costs. They then try to look so innocent when they walk up the podium steps to receive an award for all the exotic hardwood they left to rot stuck on the outside of publically funded buildings. So there is something incestuous going on between consultant architects and local authority housing departments who want to keep things as they are. George Lee only scratched at the surface when he said, in the Celtic Tiger everyone was compromised. Everyone was being paid in some shape or form, not to raise any hassle.

The real problem to my mind was not that some nomadic international parasite landed it was that large numbers of business people with no economic training became developers without any appreciation that property is linked to economic cycles like every other asset class.

Those are the exact kind of ‘made up’ developers that studied the part V during the Celtic Tiger and now sit at bars and ‘Har-har’ about their great achievements. Not to mention the fact, that many of those gimps only took up valuable fees and time which could have been channeled to trained professionals like consultant architects. It is hilarious in Ireland, we go through the pointless exercise each year of graduating more trained professionals. Then another bunch of glorified rebar engineers go off and build what needs to be built. That is all that happened with the Metro transportation planning. The architects who should have been involved, were too busy running micky mouse architectural practices and going to meaningless awards ceremonies. (Running a boutique that designs glass boxes for peoples’ rear gardens always comes before real sustainable planning) The same with the National Spatial Strategy, the rebar engineers had their day again. Architects deserve what they get for being a bunch of miserable, lousy pansies.

Brian O’ Hanlon

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