Thursday 8 December 2016

Development land sales poised to outperform 2015

Donal Buckley

Published 20/10/2016 | 02:30

The Rehab Group’s Roslyn Park HQ in Dublin 4, sold for more than €12m. It includes a house designed by James Gandon.
The Rehab Group’s Roslyn Park HQ in Dublin 4, sold for more than €12m. It includes a house designed by James Gandon.
The Rehab Group's, Roslyn Park HQ in Dublin 4 which sold for more than €12m

A total of 75 development land transactions worth a combined €640m were completed in the Republic in the first nine months of the year. That amounts to 83pc of the value of the €770m land deals that CBRE recorded for 2015.

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In the last three months alone, there were 22 development land sales completed, totalling more than €151m between them and if that level of activity were to contine for the remainder of the year, then the value of this year's sales could exceed those of last year.

Meanwhile, Evan Lonergan of Knight Frank says that while demand remains strong, the supply of sites has been lower than he expected. Consequently prices have increased.

Among the development properties to sell recently is The Rehab Group's Roslyn Park in Sandymount, Dublin 4, a 5.16 acre property. The Department of Education and Skills is believed to have paid more than the €12m price that Lisney and Savills had been guiding. As well as having significant development potential, the property has a number of buildings including a period house designed by James Gandon, architect for the Custom House and Four Courts. The Department plans to use the site for school accommodation.

Also gone sale agreed is the 2.38 acre Point Campus site at Sherriff Street in Dublin's north docklands, for which Cushman & Wakefield had been guiding €18m or about €7.7m per acre. It is believed to have sold for more than €20m to a new company which is expected to develop accommodation for 935 students.

The largest deal agreed in the three-month period was the Stocking Portfolio, for which Cushman and Wakefield achieved over the combined guide price of €39m. One of the lots in the portfolio was 24.7 acres of residential development land on Stocking Avenue, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, which has planning permission for 253 housing units. The portfolio also included 60 apartments and eight houses in Dublin and Kildare which are generating rental income of €633,504 a year.

A 20.1 acre site zoned for a range of town-centre facilities, which has 268m of frontage onto Ninth Lock Road and 450m of frontage on to New Nangor Road, sold for €9m. The first phase of its planning permission provides for a 33,357 sq ft development with a supermarket, off-licence, three separate retail units and office accommodation.

Another Dublin sale saw a prime residential site in Dalkey Manor, with development potential, achieve almost €7m.

Also sale agreed in recent times is Alexander Court, 25 Upper Pembroke Street in Dublin 2, which has 23 apartments and sits on a site of 0.15 acres with planning permission to redevelop. This went sale agreed for less than the guide price of €8m.

An Irish developer paid about €2m for the 0.69 acre former Annesley Motors site on Ballybough Road, Dublin 3, which has planning permission for about 5,200 sq m of mixed use development. CBRE's Robert Colleran had been guiding €1.5m.

Outside Dublin, the state forestry company Coillte sold two major sites in recent times. While not disclosing the prices, a spokesperson said that they were higher than forestry land prices and were based on development land values for their end uses. Of these sites, a 200 hectare site at Athenry, Co. Galway, was bought by Apple for its new data centre. The other was a 164-hectare site at Newcastle Wood, Ballymahon, Co. Longford, where site clearance work is underway on Center Parcs' forest holiday village. It will include 470 lodges, 30 apartments and a range of leisure facilities.

Padraig O hUallachain, land sales manager with Coillte Land Solutions, says that in recent years the firm has sold about 200 hectares a year and acquired slightly less than that in order to sustain the country's forestry.

"Sales arise mainly where appropriate to sectors across the housing, strategic infrastructure, renewable energy, corporate and tourism development markets… [and our] team work in partnership with local and national authorities to meet Ireland's strategic development requirements." It can also provide sites to local sports and community organisations as well as small housing developers.

Meanwhile, next Wednesday is the deadline for bids for one of Dublin city centre's most interesting development plays, Nama's Madrid Portfolio. Its sale could lead to the construction of a new shopping mall off Grafton Street. Knight Frank is guiding more than €27m for this portfolio which had been assembled by Bernard McNamara and comprises 18 commercial and 12 residential properties located between the Westbury Hotel and trendy South William St in Dublin 2.

Ross Fogarty of Knight Frank says it has attracted interest mainly from possible Irish buyers as well as some from UK-backed private equity firms. Alternatively a purchaser might adopt a conservative approach and simply add value to the existing investment properties rather than undertake an expensive large-scale redevelopment.

One of the groups expected to be interested is the Doyle family who own the Westbury, which adjoins two of the Balfe Street properties.

Commenting on Dublin City Council's new height limits, Ross Shorten of Lisney says a number of areas have been identified as mid-rise, where buildings can accommodated of up to 50 metres or 16 residential storeys and 12 commercial storeys.

These include the Digital Hub off Thomas St; St Teresa's Gardens, near the Coombe Hospital off South Circular Road; the North Fringe including Clongriffin; Clonshaugh Industrial Estate; Ballymun; Pelletstown, Park West and Cherry Orchard; Naas Road and Oscar Traynor Road.

Shorten believes St Teresa's Gardens, which is owned by the city council, has considerable potential for residential development as it does not have the legacy issues of other re-development sites. He also says there could be potential for high-rise apartments for students and single professionals in Ballymun near to DCU and convenient to the offices being developed at Dublin Airport.

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