A relatively unknown Irish property developer is planning to spend £1bn (€1.2bn) building the tallest apartment block in Europe.
In a move that harks back to the days of the Celtic Tiger, businessman Thomas Ryan has forked out £100m (€120m) to buy a site in the London Docklands, and unveiled plans to build a 74-storey apartment tower on it.
The 240-metre 'Hertsmere Tower', which will cost more than £850m (€1bn) to build, will be the second tallest building in London behind The Shard. The development will be sold as luxury apartments, going for upwards of €1,200 per square foot. The site has long been earmarked for an apartment and office complex but those plans were shelved in 2011 as the economy collapsed.
Mr Ryan, however, has now revived and updated the scheme to make it bigger than before.
Work on the tower cannot start straight away. Mr Ryan's company, Ryan Investments UK Ltd, will have to get the planning permission for the site changed, but that is not expected to be a major hurdle. Mr Ryan is almost unknown in the industry in Ireland, and market sources here were perplexed at the deal.
He is believed to have been involved in some minor deals in Ireland, but apparently had most of his success in the United States.
This is his first deal in the UK, but company chief operating officer Richard Berridge, who Mr Ryan has hired to explore more deals in the UK, told the 'Financial Times' the firm was planning to buy and develop more land around the city.
He declined to give details on the business's previous property developments. Despite the high price for the site, if London property values continue to rise at their current rate, analysts believe the tower would pay its way in the years ahead.
This is the second major deal involving an Irish developer in London this month.
A fortnight ago, Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Properties launched the City Island development in Canary Wharf, close to the Hertsmere Tower site.
The scheme, which involves some 1,700 homes, is expected to make Ballymore a profit of more than €300m.