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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Bill to fix fire-trap Priory Hall is €17m higher than thought

Cormac Murphy

Published 22/07/2014 | 19:06

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Priory Hall
The Priory Hall development in north Dublin. Photo: PA
The Priory Hall development in north Dublin. Photo: PA

The redevelopment of the Priory Hall fire-trap apartments will cost €27m, more than 2.5 times the original estimate of €10m.

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Dublin City Council will foot the bill, but it hopes to recoup €10m by selling the Donaghmede homes when they have been brought up to standard.

Built by developer Tom McFeely in 2007, the 187-unit complex has remained empty since being closed by council fire officers in October 2011 over safety concerns.

The local authority will now buy 65 of the homes, formerly owned by McFeely, from Irish Bank Resolution Corporation for an average of €15,000 each.

Of the rest of the apartments, some 62 were owner/occupied at the time of the evacuation, more than 20 were buy-to-let and 35 were social housing.

While the frame of the 20 blocks will remain, external walls will be reconstructed and new insulation and fire-proofing installed.

The faulty building material pyrite will also be removed from the blocks. It is expected the work will be completed in May 2016.

The internal areas will be extensively refurbished, with new kitchens and bathrooms fitted along with new floors and skirting boards.

The council identified a litany of sub-standard work in the blocks, including that the walls and roof in the basement car park contained pyrite.

Some of the cost of the refurbishment will go towards removing the faulty building material.

It was also found that steel supports for a staircase were rusted and ventilation pipes needed replacing.

Large parts of the roof will have to be replaced and gutters installed.

It makes a mockery of claims by McFeely in February this year that he still doesn’t think the apartment complex is a “shoddy building”.

“I don’t think it’s a shoddy building. I don’t think it is any different than most of the other buildings in Dublin,” he said at the time.

“I do not believe that Priory Hall should have been evacuated, because it is not the fire trap they said it was,” McFeely added.

Following a two-year struggle, the owner/occupiers at Priory Hall had their mortgages written off last year.

comurphy@herald.ie

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