'No justification' for closed sale of docklands building to U2
The Dail spending watchdog has criticised the manner in which a building in Dublin's docklands was sold to U2 without being put on the open market.
Eyebrows were raised when the rock band bought the building at 16 Hanover Quay for €450,000 in a closed sale last year, with some TDs believing it could have fetched significantly more.
In a draft report, set to be published this week, the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) for not putting the property on the open market.
The building, adjacent to U2's recording studio, had originally been owned by businessman Harry Crosbie. He was forced to sell it for an undisclosed sum in 2002 to allow for public amenity works but continued to use it under licence.
Separately, the DDDA planned to give U2 the top two floors of a 32-storey tower which was planned for the area.
However, that project never went ahead. The DDDA decided it no longer needed the Hanover Quay building last year, in light of its imminent dissolution.
It has claimed that in selling it to U2, it got the market value.
However, the draft PAC report said the committee could find no justification for the DDDA "engaging in such a restricted disposal of the property".
It said: "The property should have been put on the market in order to ascertain the level of competitive tension that existed for the property."
The draft report noted that the lease was bringing in an income of €63,000 per annum, which indicated the sale was for 7.5 times the value of this reoccurring income. "Commercial sales outcomes would normally suggest that a figure in excess of ten times annual rent would be factored into the sales price," it said.
It also noted the building had been insured for €598,000 in 2014.
Meanwhile, the draft report criticised the "failure of oversight" the DDDA and Dublin City Council had in relation to the Longboat Quay apartments, where residents face evacuation if fire safety works costing €3.5m are not undertaken.
"There is now an onus on both bodies to play a significant role in delivering a solution that will see the structural deficiencies rectified," the draft report said.