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Saturday 20 January 2018

Developer Gannon unveils plan for €35m apartment project

Developer Gerry Gannon
Developer Gerry Gannon
An impression of the development in Swords.

Donal Buckley

DEVELOPER Gerry Gannon is planning to build 92 apartments in the southside suburb of Clonskeagh and in the more sought-after Dublin 6 side of the Dodder River. At current asking prices in the surrounding areas of Dublin 4 and Dublin 6, the development could be worth between €30m and €35m when completed.

If current house price trends continue, the two-bedroom units might well sell for more than €350,000 and the one-bedroom flats for over €200,000. Currently, there are only six two-bedroom apartments for sale in the nearby Milltown area of Dublin 6 and these are asking between €280,000 and up to €425,000.

The new project has the financial backing of NAMA which is also financing two other housing developments which Gannon Homes is undertaking on Dublin's northside. At one of these developments, Park Edge, Clongriffin, Gannon recently sold out a phase of three-bedroom houses at prices ranging between €205,000 and €225,000 and plans to launch the next phase of 13 houses there in June. It also intends to submit a planning application for a further 140 new houses in that development.

Currently it is also laying foundations for two, three and four-bedroom houses in Millers Glen, Swords, and these will be launched in September. At another Swords site, Mooretown, it is reckoned to have potential for as many as 1,300 homes.

But while the demand for family houses in Dublin has been well flagged, the interesting aspect of the Clonskeagh plans is that they are aimed at the apartment market. Furthermore, its designs are intended to accommodate the new extra space, storage and other standards required by Dublin City planners. Those standards have been widely criticised by some agents and developers as being too expensive to cover the cost of development and provide an adequate return in the market at current prices. However, Dublin 6 apartment prices are now approaching levels that would provide such a return.

The latest Clonskeagh plans are also more modest than previous plans which the firm submitted for the site. In 2006, Gannon sought permission for as many as 130 luxury apartments as well as mews houses, a coffee shop and a museum on the 2.3-acre site and the development would have ranged in height between three and seven storeys. Some reports estimated it would have been worth €100m if completed during the boom. However, the planning officials requested that this be reduced in height and so it was decided that the current planning application should reflect the planners' preferences.

Located near Ashton's pub, on the site of the former Smurfit paper mill on the banks of the River Dodder, it is expected that the apartments with views over the river weir could generate premium prices or rents.

Gannon bought the site in partnership with Michael Smurfit in 2005 and it was one of three properties acquired for €115m with the other two being the K Club in Straffan, Co Kildare and 100 acres adjoining it. The vendor was Madison Dearborn, which had acquired the properties along with the Smurfit group's international packaging business.

About two years ago, Dr Smurfit bought out Gannon's 49pc interest in the K Club for a reported €40 million plus. It is understood that Dr Smurfit is no longer involved in the Clonskeagh site.

The new development will include 74 two-bed apartments and 18 one-bedroom units in four blocks, ranging in height from two to four storeys. In addition it will also include a creche and parking for 134 cars and 100 bicycles. The planning application also asks planners to approve either a riverside walk along the Dodder or alternatively landscaping without a riverside walk. The latter would provide residents with greater privacy and security.

Shane Daly of Gannon Homes says the firm is confident that with the right product and with respect for pricing, the development will prove successful.

Recognised by his characteristic fedora hat, Mr Gannon was one of the Maple 10 developers and gave evidence in court recently in the trial of the Anglo-Irish Bank trio about his purchase of shares with loans from the lender in order to help rescue the bank in 2008.

Mr Gannon received a €45m loan from Anglo in order to buy shares in the bank and he told the court that "if anything happened I would have to pay back 25pc."

He said he later bought more shares in Anglo on his own initiative. It was his belief at the time that the share price would recover.

He has been involved in a number of major residential developments in Dublin, most notably Robswall in Malahide, Co Dublin.

The firm also had a UK property development arm.

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