Saturday 1 November 2014

London property group buys Gannon's Robswall scheme

Published 24/04/2014 | 02:30

The prestigious Robswall development in Malahide, County Dublin.

London property group Development Securities is understood to have paid boomtime builder Gerry Gannon over €30m for a portfolio of land and housing in the well-heeled north Dublin suburb of Malahide.

It marks the second acquisition by stockmarket-listed Development Securities in Dublin within the past six months.

The purchase also signals the continuing strong interest of international players in the recovering housing and commercial property market, particularly around the capital.

Gannon Homes put the existing Robswall housing and apartment scheme in Malahide up for sale last November with a €30m price tag. The sale, which was being handled by Knight Frank, included 85 properties owned by Gannon Homes and nine acres of development land.

The Robswall development includes 363 completed houses and apartments on a 40-acre site, but there's planning permission for an additional 154 properties. The existing properties were built prior to 2007 and construction came to an abrupt halt as the downturn hit.

While the properties and development land were expected to fetch about €30m, it's understood that they sold for slightly more than that.

A spokeswoman for Development Securities confirmed that the company had established two firms in Ireland in advance of a "possible successful bid" for the Robswall site.

"I regret that we are not in a position to comment any further at this stage in relation to the site," she said.

However, contracts for the sale of the site have already been exchanged by Gannon Homes and the Robswall buyer, with the transaction expected to close imminently, the Irish Independent understands.

The 85 properties that are part of the sale have been generating annual rental income of about €1.6m.

Last October, Development Securities paid €2.4m for a mixed-use 0.25 acre development site in Dublin. That site has planning permission for 12 apartments, as well as restaurant, retail and office space. Development Securities said about €5m will be spent constructing the scheme, which should be finished towards the end of the year. It's developing it on a 50-50 joint venture basis with a local partner.

"Whilst Dublin represents a new territory for us, we are working in conjunction with a strong local partner and our initial investment here builds on our experience in securing real estate loan portfolios over the last few years," said Matthew Weiner, executive director at Development Securities at the time. "We are considering modest further investments in Dublin, an international capital which offers an attractive risk/return profile."

Mr Gannon was one of the country's biggest home builders. His loans are with NAMA and he's likely to be one of the agency's preferred partners for joint ventures and home building projects.

He is planning to build as many as 1,300 homes at Swords in north Dublin in coming years as demand for family homes in the capital outstrips supply.

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