Sunday 20 January 2019

Bids for New Ireland HQ top €35m in first round

An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment of 9-12 Dawson Street, the current headquarters of New Ireland Assurance
An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment of 9-12 Dawson Street, the current headquarters of New Ireland Assurance
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Hibernia Reit, developer Eamonn Duignan, Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land, and BCP Asset Management are understood to have progressed to the second round of bidding for the landmark premises of New Ireland Assurance in Dublin city centre.

The Irish Independent understands offers for the company's headquarters at 9-12 Dawson Street have already surpassed the €35m price guided by Savills Ireland director of development, Mark Reynolds, when he brought the property to the market last month.

The property is being sold on behalf of Bank of Ireland, and is being marketed as an opportunity to deliver an office and retail scheme significantly larger than the existing 4,461 sq m (48,018 sq ft) building occupied by New Ireland.

A feasibility study undertaken by Henry J Lyons Architects suggests there is substantial scope to redevelop and extend the building to accommodate up to 6,219 sq m (66,941 sq ft) of space, subject to the necessary grant of planning permission.

The Dawson Street area has undergone significant change over the past three years, with the development of several new office spaces by Green Reit and Iput.

These developments, coupled with the arrival of the Luas Cross City line, have seen both Dawson Street and neighbouring Molesworth Street become the most sought-after location in Dublin's central business district. Barclays Bank, AIB and are just three of the major names who have decided to locate in the area.

Hibernia Reit's interest in acquiring the Dawson Street property is unsurprising given its track record as an investor and developer in Dublin's Central Business District and Docklands. Since its establishment, the company's portfolio has grown to include prime assets such as the Windmill Quarter on Hanover Street, 1SJRQ, currently under construction at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, One and Two Docklands Central on Guild Street, New Century House on Mayor Street and the former regional headquarters of An Garda Síochána at Harcourt Square.

And while Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land's principal focus at present is on the delivery of the exclusive Lansdowne Place apartment scheme in Ballsbridge, it is also engaged in the completion and repositioning of the mixed-use Elm Park Green development on the Merrion Road in Dublin 4. The project involves the conversion of space which had been attended to accommodate a hotel/hospital to 175,000 sq ft of Grade A offices.

Eamonn Duignan's bid for the New Ireland Assurance premises isn't unexpected either. In 2015, the developer partnered with London-based real estate giant Meyer Bergman in a €90m deal to acquire Nassau House, a five-storey office and retail block overlooking Trinity College with a row of shops fronting on to Nassau Street and Dawson Street. While Mr Duignan subsequently exited the partnership, he emerged in 2016 as one of a number of bidders for the Central Bank's former HQ on Dame Street.

BCP Asset Management's international fund for its part is currently involved with Meyer Bergman in the planned redevelopment of Nassau House. Last September, BCP paid €11.33m - a premium of over €3m on the €8.3m guide price - to acquire St Andrew's House, a four-storey-over-basement Victorian block with five shops fronting on to Exchequer Street and two more on South William Street.

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