Sunday 24 June 2018

Ford motor company site at Cork docks for €8.5m

An aerial view of the former Ford distribution site in Cork’s South Docklands
An aerial view of the former Ford distribution site in Cork’s South Docklands
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Agent CBRE is quoting a price of €8.5m for Ford's former distribution site in Cork's South Docklands.

The sale is expected to attract significant interest from both domestic and international developers and investors, given its pivotal location at the heart of an area widely recognised as one of the largest development opportunities in any European city.

Extending to 11.35 acres, the subject property has the benefit of a high-density planning permission allowing for the development of 564 residential units, 31,777 sq m of offices, a 205-bedroom hotel and a 5,000-seater event centre incorporating designs by lead architects Scott Tallon Walker and Norman Foster & Partners. The permission remains in place until 2019, and was secured by developer Greg Coughlan's company, Howard Holdings, which acquired the site for over €35m during the boom.

Cork's South Docklands cover an area extending to 324 acres with 4kms of river frontage, stretching from the newly-redeveloped Pairc ui Chaoimh stadium in the east, to O'Callaghan Properties' 3,300 sq m Navigation Square office development on Albert Quay to the west. The South Docklands Local Area Plan is currently under review and a new development plan is due for publication in June. Its predecessor, the 2008 South Docks Local Area Plan, recognised the South Docks as capable of supporting 20,000 workers and a resident population of 25,000.

As with Dublin, Cork has seen a resurgence in business confidence which has served to drive demand for residential, office and hotel accommodation. Residential rents have increased by 8pc over the past year, while office rents have grown by 30pc in the past three years. Hotel RevPAR of €77 - 20pc above the peak of the last cycle in 2007 - was recorded to year end 2017.

The sale's timing coincides with the recent release by the Government of the National Planning Framework Plan, which sets out a framework for the development of Cork over next 20 years. Under these proposals, the Dunkettle Interchange, M20 Cork/Limerick Motorway, the M28 Cork/Ringaskiddy Road, the €140m flood defence scheme and the Cork Events Centre are planned, along with a number of new projects.

These include two new hospitals, a Rapid Transport System (RTS), and a section of the Northern Ring Road linking the Limerick and Dublin Roads. The plan also calls for €2bn to be allocated towards an urban development fund.

The Government has said this fund will see the delivery of the Eastern Gateway Bridge linking Cork's South Dockland to road infrastructure on the northern side of the River Lee.

Commenting on the sale of the former Ford distribution site, Denis O'Donoghue of CBRE's Cork office says: "While Dublin represents a mature market, Cork is just starting on its journey to becoming a true second city and now has all the ingredients required in terms of government support, new planning guidelines, occupier demand, capital and business confidence to deliver its docklands vision."

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