Sunday 24 June 2018

Comers cash in with €95m sale of Dublin office building

The Comer Group is understood to have agreed heads of terms on a deal which will see the disposal of the Beckett building on East Wall Road in the city’s north docklands to Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners.
The Comer Group is understood to have agreed heads of terms on a deal which will see the disposal of the Beckett building on East Wall Road in the city’s north docklands to Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners.
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Galway-born developers Luke and Brian Comer are set to secure €95m from the sale of a Dublin office block to a major German fund manager, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The Comer Group is understood to have agreed heads of terms on a deal which will see the disposal of the Beckett building on East Wall Road in the city's north docklands to Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners.

Located between East Point Business Park, where Google and Cisco Systems lease offices, and the Point Village, where Altaba (formerly Yahoo!) occupies space, the building has since last year been a second home for Facebook, following the US tech giant's decision to expand its operations beyond its existing European headquarter offices at Grand Canal Square.

Facebook is leasing over 100,000 sq ft of office space at the Beckett at a rent of €24 per sq ft - a fraction of the prevailing rate in the city's Silicon Docks and Central Business District.

The Comer Group will have made a massive profit on the sale of the property, having acquired it for a knockdown price at the height of the crash in 2011.

Prior to the Comers' acquistion, the six-storey office block had lain vacant for almost a decade.

The €95m sale points to the strength of the recovery which has taken place in Dublin's commercial real estate market.

The Comers, for their part, have benefited enormously from the resurgence in property values in the capital, having snapped up a range of major assets during the financial crisis for bargain-basement prices.

Their most high-profile purchase came in 2013 with the €22m acquisition of the former UCD veterinary college in Ballsbridge.

The 2.2-acre site had previously been purchased by Glenkerrin Homes chief Ray Grehan in 2005 for €171.5m - a record-breaking €84m an acre. The Comer Group is now in the final stage of delivering Number One Ballsbridge, a high-end offering of offices and apartments on the site.

The group has already secured Avolon, one of world's leading aircraft lessors, as tenants for the largest of the scheme's three blocks.

Two other aircraft-leasing companies have signed up for individual floors elsewhere within the development.

Elsewhere in the capital, the Comers' purchase of the unfinished Sentinel Building in Sandyford for €850,000 in 2011 is poised to deliver major dividends, following the recent granting of planning permission for the development of 294 'live-work' apartments there.

While GLL Real Estate Partners may not secure the same level of return on its investment in the Beckett as the building's previous owners, it too has benefited from the resurgence in the Dublin property market.

Last year, the Munich-based fund manager sold AIB's high-profile branch building at 100/101 Grafton Street to Irish Life for a reported €50.11m.

The price represented an uplift of €20.11m - or over 44pc on the €28m GLL Real Estate Partners had paid to secure the property in July 2010 as Ireland's economy teetered on the brink.

In January 2013, GLL invested in Dublin city centre again, paying in the region of €40m for the River Island Store and adjoining Cath Kidston outlet at the bottom of Grafton Street. The two buildings had previously been purchased by the developer David Daly in 2007 for €115m.

Efforts by the Irish Independent to contact Luke Comer for comment on the Comer Group's sale of the Beckett building were unsuccessful. A spokesman for GLL Real Estate Partners had not responded at the time of going to press.

Irish Independent

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