Irish property's big players are honoured in Excellence Awards
It's prescient, perhaps, that this year's KPMG Irish Independent Property Industry Excellence Awards, only in its second year, was held once again in Dublin's Convention Centre - the capital's standing testament both to the folly of the Celtic Tiger and its showcase for the incredible architectural heights inspiring design can achieve.
The black-tie gathering had its focus on excellence in all areas - from planning to building to sales, and 900 were present to enjoy the evening, which was also sponsored by Pinergy and solicitors Eugene F Collins. The winners emerged after the expert judging panel voted 'blind', before gathering to thrash out the finalists. There were 150 entries across 11 categories, with plenty of representation from Northern Ireland also.
A number of last year's entries went on to win international awards elsewhere, an indication of both quality and the selection process. The INM-sponsored DIT Doctorate in Property Research launched last year is now fully up and running, having been awarded to Lorna Colley at the 2015 ceremony.
A smattering of the best-known property developers included all three Cosgrave brothers - the eco-friendly force in building - while Cork's Michael O'Flynn was spotted working the room.
Prof Dr Gunther Gruhn (aka Barry Murphy) entertained the gathering with his take on the Trump election with a swipe at Irish developers (well, they say you should know your audience).
While former Irish Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher wouldn't be drawn on his ongoing legal case against RTE, he was much more forthcoming on what was needed to get building moving here. "Land costs are very high. Developers can fund the building but not the land. If it has planning permission, the price is already factored in; if not, it's just a field," he said. "There's no urgency, strategy or unified approach [to building] by Government. There's a lack of courage at the centre."
He said he believed Housing Minister Simon Coveney is "genuine, doing his best but this needs will across the board".
Michael Grehan, MD of Sherry FitzGerald, which won Residential Agent of the Year, added. "It's a challenging market but good, strict processes deliver for everybody. The biggest issue is increasing supply. There has to be greater emphasis on encouraging risk," he said.
Grehan also said that we need to shift our culture to one of renting. "At the height of the Celtic Tiger we had an 80pc home ownership rate. Now, we need to build to rent, and professional landlords are the only ones who can build to scale; it's the European norm. Nobody wants to see rents going up year on year."
Property Entrepreneur of the Year and Overall Winner is a familiar name in property circles - Ballymore's Sean Mulryan. With a slew of commercial and residential developments across Ireland, the UK and beyond, Mulryan consistently displays the highest level of quality. In 2016 he has been responsible for building family homes at Piper's Hill in Naas, Co Kildare, Royal Canal Park in Dublin, with 101 units coming on stream at St Marnock's Bay in Portmarnock. Dublin Landings, in conjunction with Oxley, shows how high-rise can also be highly stylish. The shy Mr Mulryan made a few quick comments before collecting his gongs.
The full list of winners
Community Benefit Award
Bridgedale, Marina Village Greystones
Property Conservation Award
Kavanagh Tuite Architects, GPO Witness History Conservation Project
Design Project Award
Jones Investment Ltd, The One Building
Property Entrepreneur Award
Sean Mulryan, Ballymore Group
Property Investment/Fund Manager Award
Commercial Agency Award
Jones Lang LaSalle
Residential Agency Award
Sherry FitzGerald Ltd
Regional Excellence Award
O'Donnellan & Joyce, Galway
John Paul Construction
Emerging Talent Award
Dr James Duff, Lighting Designer, ARUP
Overall Winner 2016
Sean Mulryan, Ballymore Group