Re: Re: the second redevelopment of ballsbridge

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Clash of the titans over developer plans for D4

DANIEL McCONNELL

DUBLIN City Council and a clutch of millionaire property developers who have paid record prices for sites in the heart of Dublin 4 are on a collision course on the issue of how to best realise the area’s development potential.

In its new Local Area Plan for Ballsbridge, Dublin City Council has laid down an impressive marker for the future of the area: it is allowing for 10-storey buildings – but only at the most central points of the development.

This is far short of the 30-storey expectations of some developers, including Sean Dunne, who purchased the Jurys site last year.

Dublin City Council said its duty is to ensure the development of the area is in keeping with the surrounds, and city planners are yet to be convinced that 30-storey developments are in the best interests of this largely residential area.

“The key to the plan is integration. We want Ballsbridge to lead the way in terms of high-density development, but that can only be achieved properly if all aspects and outcomes of the development are considered,” said city planner Dick Gleeson.

An indication of how serious the issue has become for the developers can be gauged by the fact that Sean Dunne postponed the public launch of his proposed 32-storey building for the landmark Dublin 4 site last week. He has apparently now decided to go back to planners and it could be April before the massive development is launched.

Some “iconic” developments will be allowed tobe double the size of adjoining buildings which could see them stretch as high as 16 storeys, but Gleeson said such buildings would have to offer something “stunning” in order to get the go-ahead.

“It would have to be something very special. If you are asking people to bend their heads and look upwards, then they would need to be looking at something incredible. The iconic buildings will have to be all-encompassing and will be judged not only on design but on all aspects of how they would interact with their surrounds,” Mr Gleeson added.

Because of the Jurys/Berkeley Court hotel complex, Ballsbridge has so far largely escaped the enormous redevelopment seen in other areas of the city. But in the next 12 to 24 months that giant will most certainly be woken up by a handful of big developers who have, in some cases, paid €90m an acre for land in the plush suburb.

The Berkeley Court andJurys Ballsbridge hotels are to close in mid-August in the aftermath of this year’s Horse Show at the nearby RDS. Property mogul Sean Dunne, who is married to Dublin socialite and former journalist Gayle Killilea, will assume control from the Doyle family in early September but as yet his final plans are not known.

Dunne and Killilea are seen as one of Ireland’s most glamorous couples and regularly feature in the newspapercolumns.

Bernie Gallagher, the head of the Doyle family’s interests, raised a few eyebrows when she sold the site of the Berkeley Court, the jewel in the crown of the hotel empire of her father, PV Doyle. Sean Dunne paid a whopping €380m to secure the location. He had previously proposed constructing a 32-storey building on the site, but that has been strongly opposed by local interest groups.

Early indications of his initial 32-storey plan showed that, in order to make a profit, he would need to fetch over a million each for the apartments he intended to build – which left even hardened property experts wondering how he was going to work such a miracle.

But Dunne is not the only one with high ambitions for Ballsbridge. In the last 12 months, the jockeying for supremacy in Dublin 4 has heated up, with a number of big players claiming their stake. And some of these other purchases make the Dunne purchase of the Jurys site value for money.

Maynooth-based developer Ray Grehan paid a total of €171.5m for the site of the former UCD Veterinary College; that is, Grehan’s company, Glenkerrin Homes, paid €83m-an-acre for the 2.05- acre site. but even this was eclipsed by low-key developer David Daly of Albany Homes who last summer paid €25m for the five-storey Franklin House on Pembroke Road. The small site is on only one-fifth of an acre, but it reflects a value of almost €135m per acre.

At the end of last month, it emerged that a consortium of developers headed up by Bernard McNamara and Gerry O’Reilly paid €46m to gain control of Carrisbrook House, an ill-fitting eight-storey carbuncle across the road from the Jurys site, which will be demolished to make way for an expanded development.

The consortium has also bought into the neighbouring petrol station, as well as paying €36m for a faculty building on Shelbourne Road.

McNamara has also purchased a separate property opposite Jurys Hotel on Pembroke Road.

But there is more to come with the expected sale of Lansdowne House following the relocation of the Department of Finance to Tullamore, Co Offaly in the summer.

So, with the activity hotting up and with a clear collision of ideas opening up, Ballsbridge is set to be the subject of much talk in the weeks ahead.

Irish Independent

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