Saturday 1 October 2016

A decade later, Glass Bottle site is still an icon of the bust

Published 20/05/2016 | 02:30

The former Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The former Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Think back to the Celtic Tiger. It's the guts of a decade ago now, but we can just about remember the credit cards and the celebs.

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For many, the stars of the Tiger years were the developers and the money they spent around the country.

There are few sites that illustrate the lunacy of those years quite as well as the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend.

The 24-acre site was seen as one of the greatest development opportunities in the capital, with the potential to hold hundreds of homes in Ringsend but adjacent to Sandymount - arguably the most expensive part of the city at that time. If fully developed, it could have housed up to 10,000 people.

Developer Bernard McNamara put together a consortium, including the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), to pay a staggering €412m for the site, which was mostly controlled by packaging firm Ardagh. However the property crash soon took hold, and the great plans for the development never came to pass.

For the past three years, the site has been available to rent. In 2012, it was valued at €45m.

The failure of the Glass Bottle site to get off the ground would have political ramifications that are still being felt today.

Anglo Irish Bank supplied a loan of €288m to buy the site; this was one of the highest-profile loans to be transferred to Nama.

That would be bad enough on its own, but the nature of the deal caused huge problems too.

Anglo chairman Seán Fitzpatrick sat on the board of the DDDA, while DDDA chairman Lar Bradshaw was a director of Anglo. There was no wrongdoing by either man, but the image of the two businessman sitting on both sides of a loan for the deal was one that has been regurgitated time and time again.

The site is not the only one that is set to be used as part of the masterplan. The proposed strategic development plan will take in lands that were assembled by Fabrizia Developments, a company that was controlled by the bust developer Liam Carroll - another Celtic Tiger titan who fell to earth in the years that followed.

Irish Independent

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