Baron of Ballsbridge Sean Dunne and Gayle Killilea to leave home
IT'S official. Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle are leaving Ballsbridge.
The Sunday Independent has learned from impeccable sources that Mr Dunne and his wife are in the advanced stages of negotiations with the South African embassy to rent out their family home, Ouragh, on Shrewsbury Road, with a view to downsizing to a smaller house in the greater Dublin area which they intend to use as their Irish base.
The Sunday Independent further understands that the Mountbrook Homes chief has been travelling extensively in the UK, the US and Brazil in recent months in pursuit of business opportunities.
Mr Dunne's development company, Mountbrook, will shortly commence the refurbishment of a 30,000 sq ft commercial development in the greater London area.
While sources close to the Carlow-born developer insisted last night that he is not emigrating, they said that he and his family would now be spending more time overseas in pursuit of business opportunities as the domestic property market remains stagnant.
"There's no question of Sean and Gayle emigrating. There is still a lot to be done with the business in Dublin and with D4 hotels.
"Both the plans for Jurys and the AIB bank centre are under appeal to An Bord Pleanala, so there's plenty of work to be done yet to get them over the line," a source close to the process said.
Asked what Mr Dunne's immediate plans were, the source added: "He really doesn't have a choice but to seek out new opportunities overseas as there are very few in Ireland right now.
"He will also be looking for international investors for some of the Irish projects. This investment will be vital for any sort of development to get going in Ireland again."
Asked what Mr Dunne's views were on having to go abroad in search of opportunities and fresh investment, the source said: "It isn't first time Sean has had to leave Ireland. Remember, he was forced to emigrate twice, first in 1977 to Canada, and then again in 1985, when he went to London.
"Sean relishes the opportunity being presented overseas. He's already in discussions with two leading developers in relation to building the tower, which was refused permission by An Bord Pleanala for Dublin 4."
The Sunday Independent understands that the man the media dubbed the Baron of Ballsbridge for his stated determination to bring a piece of Knightsbridge to Dublin, was recently in Sao Paulo in Brazil, along with a number of Ireland's other leading developers seeking out development opportunities in the country's thriving residential property market.
Mr Dunne is scheduled to return to Dublin in the coming days to finalise a long-term rental agreement for the Shrewsbury Road home.
He is understood to have no interest in putting the house on the market, given the number of high-profile residences which have failed to sell in the area in recent years.