Monday 21 August 2017

Crosbie always more at home with rock stars than racehorses

Harry Crosbie
Harry Crosbie
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Harry Crosbie turned 71 last month.

But as he heads into the twilight of his years, the developer is carrying a flashlight. Just a few weeks ago he revealed that he and veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne have embarked on a plan to build an amphitheatre in Dublin's Docklands - Crosbie's spiritual home, but also the fount of so many of his current financial woes.

"Nobody likes a whinger," he told Newstalk last month. "You dust yourself down and just get on with it."

As a public figure Crosbie was always cut from different cloth than most Irish developers - always more likely to be found in the company of Bono or John Banville than in the owners' enclosure at the Curragh.

And despite all the financial calamity, no-one can deny that Crosbie has played his part in rejuvenating what was an area of Dublin in deep decay.

His father ran a haulage business near from where the 3Arena (previously the 02 Arena and originally The Point Depot) is now. Crosbie travelled to Europe with his father in the late 1970s and what he saw in other cities planted the seed for a plan to rejuvenate and reinvent Dublin's docks.

Harry Crosbie with Bono
Harry Crosbie with Bono

The Point opened in 1988, the year after the neighbouring International Financial Services Centre found its first legs. It was the beginning of a long transformation not just of the docks, but of Dublin.

Less than two decades later, the property bubble made everything seem possible.

Among a string of property deals Crosbie built the landmark Bord Gáis Theatre, which opened in 2010, but by then the debris of the property crash was raining down.

His planned Point Village - designed as a city within a city - proved to be a major undoing. Some elements, such as a swish hotel were built, but when the plates of the property boom stopped spinning Crosbie was left with heavy bank debts that quickly found their way into Nama.

For the past few years, Crosbie has spent a large chunk of his time fighting legal battles. But his legacy, despite all that, will endure in the docklands for decades to come.

Irish Independent

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