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Monday 22 September 2014

From €412m field of dreams to planned container park

Published 05/01/2014 | 02:30

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HUGE COST: The Irish Glass Bottle site, which sold for €412m, looks set to become a container site. Photo: Gerry Mooney

IT was once one of the most valuable pieces of land in the country, but just seven years after it was bought for €412m the jinxed Irish Glass Bottle (IGB) site looks likely to be turned into a glorified container park.

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Now worth just one-10th of the Celtic Tiger price achieved in November 2006, the 'for let' signs were discreetly erected at the IGB site over Christmas by estate agents Savills on behalf of Nama.

The State's 'bad bank' is looking for tenants to take out leases for portions of the 25-acre site, which is less than 15 minutes away from O'Connell Bridge.

At the moment the only practical use for the site appears to be storage of freight containers, given its proximity to the Dublin docks and the port container facility at South Bank Road in Ringsend.

But even that is not without its problems as prospective tenants will have to level and "rough surface" the overgrown and uneven site, which had to be cleansed of contaminated soil and methane gas built up over decades of industrial use.

A spokesman for the letting agents said any works that had to be carried out by those proposing to lease a section of the site would be "factored in" during rent negotiations.

The Glass Bottle site was bought in 2006 by Becbay, a consortium whose principals included the Dublin Docklands Development Authority along with developer Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan.

Anglo Irish Bank financed a large chunk of the €412m deal, but ambitious plans for a mixed use development -- including retail, residential, leisure and office space -- never reached fruition.

Becbay was eventually put into liquidation by Nama. The last evaluation on the site in 2010 valued it at just €45m.

Receiver Mark Reynolds of Savills, on behalf of Nama, confirmed to the Sunday Independent that it had already received "a number of inquiries" about the site, but he declined to discuss lease prices.

Mr Reynolds said he was seeking short- to medium-term tenants of not more than five years in a bid to generate some income from the site and reduce overhead costs.

At one level, the site still has massive potential, given the acknowledged shortage of large sites so close to the heart of the capital.

There is now a clamour for the provision of quality residential housing, which has already created a price bubble in parts of Dublin.

The glass bottle site is less than 3km from the city centre, and is situated close to both the East Link bridge and Dublin Port Tunnel.

Dublin South East Labour TD Kevin Humphreys is convinced the site will be the first major development in the city in the post-Celtic Tiger era.

He told the Sunday Independent: "It's so close to the city centre. It still has some infrastructural issues. Even a few years ago it was acknowledged that there was a requirement for an additional bridge over the Dodder to give access to the city centre via the quays for public transportation.

"There is a pent-up demand for good quality three-bedroom houses and apartments. It's clear that rents for apartments have sky-rocketed in some parts, up to €1,200 to €1,400 for one-bedroom units.

"The next step is for Dublin City Council is to develop a masterplan which will encompass the Irish Glass Bottle site. What also needs to be done is proper consultation with the local community to see what they need."

Irish Independent

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