Thursday 21 September 2017

NAMA to call shots on Anglo's 'ghost' HQ

Shane Phelan, Treacy Hogan

TOXIC loan agency NAMA is expected to have the final say on whether the proposed "ghost" headquarters of disgraced Anglo Irish Bank is finished or sold off.

The eight-storey shell building, part of a package of developments now controlled by NAMA, was used as security on loans that NAMA acquired from developer Liam Carroll. NAMA has a €5bn pot, which it can invest in unfinished projects.

The agency must now decide whether it can get a better deal for taxpayers by finishing the building in the Dublin docklands and selling it on, or offering it for sale in its current state.

The value is likely to increase significantly as a result of yesterday's planning approval by An Bord Pleanala for the project to be completed.

There is no anchor tenant, as Anglo pulled out of the agreement to occupy the building last February. A High Court action was taken by rival developer Sean Dunne, who owns nearby properties. Work on the project was halted after the High Court quashed planning permission fast-tracked by the Dublin Docklands Development Association (DDDA).

A "secret" agreement was reached, whereby permission would be granted to Mr Carroll's company for a 16-storey building that was not allowed in the North Lotts area at that time, the DDDA has admitted.

The authority has maintained that the board, which was responsible for granting planning permission, was not aware of the details of the agreement by a number of its executives.

The former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick sat on the board of the DDDA.

The unfinished shell building has become an iconic image of the collapse of the Irish property market.

The long-running appeals and court cases mean the eye-sore building has been left unfinished on Dublin's quays for several years.

In its decision yesterday, An Bord Pleanala said the retention and completion of the building would be compatible with existing and permitted development in the area.

It would not seriously damage the local visual amenities and would be acceptable in terms of traffic, the authority said.

It is now open to Mr Dunne to bring a judicial review of the latest planning decision if he chooses to do so.

Irish Independent

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