Monday 23 October 2017

Loss-making RTÉ to cut 300 jobs - and could raise €75m from 'prime' D4 site

Land is expected to attract wide interest from home and abroad

An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed. The 8.64-acre site has been brought to market with a guide price of €75m and is expected to attract a lot of interest.
An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed. The 8.64-acre site has been brought to market with a guide price of €75m and is expected to attract a lot of interest.
An artist’s impression of how the site could look once developed. The 8.63 acre site has been brought to market with a guide price of €75m
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

RTÉ's prospects of plugging the gaping hole in its balance sheet are set to be given a welcome boost today with the announcement by international property consultants, Savills, that it has brought 8.64 acres of the State broadcaster's lands in Donnybrook to the market for a guide price of €75m.

Described by the agents as one of the "largest, predominantly residential development opportunities in Dublin 4", the 'Project Montrose' site - which represents just over a quarter of RTÉ's existing 32.12 acre campus - is expected to attract interest from a wide range of Irish and international developers and investors.

The news comes as it has emerged that up to 300 jobs may be lost over the next two years at RTÉ as part of a radical restructuring of the organisation.

It is understood the proceeds from the sale of 'Project Montrose' will be used to reinvest in a new editorial structure that will see its news and current affairs division retained as a stand alone division but see other areas such as TV, Radio and Digital consolidated in whole or in part to serve an "all content" strategy.

The 8.64-acre site has been brought to market with a guide price of €75m and is expected to attract a lot of interest.
The 8.64-acre site has been brought to market with a guide price of €75m and is expected to attract a lot of interest.

The Irish Independent understands that between 200 to 300 jobs could be shed over a two-year period. However, those losses are set to be offset by the hiring of more than 80 to serve RTÉ's new content strategy.

Read More: Bold decisions must be taken to preserve its critical remit as a public broadcaster

Meanwhile, the 8.64 acres of lands are being sold with a detailed feasibility study for a high-quality housing scheme, designed by leading architecture practice, O'Mahony Pike Architects.

The lands have the capacity to accommodate up to 500 units comprising a mix of apartments and houses, subject to the necessary planning permission being obtained.

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Commenting on the opportunity the Montrose lands present, Mark Reynolds, director at Savills Ireland, said: "This area of Dublin is synonymous with exclusive high quality apartments and period houses, but supply has been limited due to the lack of appropriate development sites.

An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed
An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed

"We see Project Montrose as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be part of a truly transformative development story in one of Dublin's most affluent and fashionable areas."

Mr Reynolds added: "The pent-up demand from buyers and renters for quality apartments in prime locations in Dublin 4, coupled with the backdrop of limited competing supply, will ensure a successful sales campaign for the scheme when completed."

The proceeds from the sale of the site will be welcomed by RTÉ management as it seeks to address the State broadcaster's financial condition.

In 2016 alone, RTÉ's losses reached about €20m.

The way was effectively cleared last week for the long-anticipated disposal of the Montrose lands.

The final piece of the jigsaw came at a meeting of RTÉ's Sports and Social Club, where members voted in favour of a plan to relocate the club's premises to RTÉ's planned new facilities on the south-east of its campus.

An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed
An artist’s impression of how the site in Dublin 4 could look once developed

RTÉ formally announced its intention to sell a portion of its Montrose campus last January. In an email to all staff, the broadcaster downplayed the financial necessity of the proposed sale, however, choosing instead to frame its plans within the context of redeveloping its own facilities.

Irish Independent

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