Friday 24 March 2017

'Broke' tycoon renting out unsold apartments in plush Elm Park complex

Bernard McNamara is
trying to extract value from the
Elm Park development by
renting out units
Bernard McNamara is trying to extract value from the Elm Park development by renting out units

EMBATTLED property mogul Bernard McNamara is renting out apartments in his plush Elm Park complex after sales of the Booterstown development were put on ice.

Ads on property websites show McNamara's Mercer Accommodation Group, which usually deals with short-term and holiday lets, is offering the Elm Park units for between €950 and €3,000 a month.

About four one-bed apartments are understood to be up for rent, along with about 10 two-beds and a three-bed unit dubbed the Bay Penthouse. A number of other apartments are believed to have been let earlier this year.

A spokesman for Mr McNamara, who has admitted he is €1.5bn in debt and "broke", said he had no comment to make on why the apartments were being rented instead of sold.

Hooke & MacDonald, which is still listed as the selling agent on Elm Park's website, last night said it had "no instructions" to sell any more of the 330-unit development.

It is unclear whether the apartments are being let by Mr McNamara, who reportedly owns 32 apartments personally, or Elm Park's development company Radora, in which Mr McNamara's development company has a 56pc stake.

A spokesman for Nama, which is understood to have taken over the debt on the project, said he "couldn't comment" on individual cases.

"In principle, given that the focus is on returning money to the taxpayer, clearly we would welcome proposals that would generate income," he said.

The latest manoeuvres to extract value from Elm Park are in stark contrast to the development's early days in 2006, when it was valued at €475m and launched amid much fanfare.

It went on to be relaunched the following Easter, with one-beds starting from €455,000 and two-beds priced from €585,000.

As the market flagged in 2008, Elm Park tried to kick-start sales by offering interest-free loans of up to 30pc of the apartment price under a scheme known as Easy Credit.

Prices were also lowered in September 2008, with one-beds going for €420,000 and two-beds priced from €470,000.

Those prices remain on the Elm Park website.

The €3,000-a-month Bay Penthouse is described as "like nothing else on the rental market", with floor-to-ceiling windows giving "spectacular views across Dublin".

At the lower end of the rental spectrum, "super one-bed apartments" are renting for €950 a month, complete with all mod cons.

Elm Park also includes an office element, with insurance giant Allianz so far the sole tenant.

A leisure complex was also envisaged in the initial plans, but has yet to be developed.

Irish Independent

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