Sunday 18 August 2019

Hibernia extends lease for Garda headquarters

Hibernia paid €70m for the 117,000 sq ft building at Harcourt Square, which sits on a 1.9-acre site, in February of last year
Hibernia paid €70m for the 117,000 sq ft building at Harcourt Square, which sits on a 1.9-acre site, in February of last year

Michael Cogley

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has agreed a six-year lease with Hibernia REIT to house the headquarters of An Garda Síochána, bringing a long-running dispute between the two parties to a close.

Hibernia paid €70m for the 117,000 sq ft building at Harcourt Square, which sits on a 1.9-acre site, in February of last year.

The real estate investment firm had intended to level the property and rebuild it more than double its existing size.

However, despite receiving planning permission for the redevelopment Hibernia agreed to renew the four leases associated with the existing tenant.

The building hosts specialist Garda units including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, CAB, the Fraud Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Special Detective Unit.

The lease agreement, which is to commence in January 2017, will see the OPW pay €6m a year in rent, as well as a once-off €500,000 arrears payment next year.

It is understood the arrears payment is in relation to a rent uplift that will be paid retrospectively.

The property is made up of office accommodation, car parking, and ancillary facilities. The OPW had paid rent of €4.9m per year on the leases.

Hibernia ceo Kevin Nowlan said the company is delighted to agree terms with the OPW.

"The new lease gives both parties certainty on the date of departure and secures near term income for Hibernia. We will now work to optimise our plans for what will be an outstanding future development project," he said.

President of the Garda Representative Association Ciarán O'Neill said the extension "removed confusion" for members based there.

"However, this is not a permanent solution. Harcourt Square is currently the base for a wide number of national units and the recently formed Armed Support Unit also has its base there. As a result, the building is becoming cramped and space is at a premium," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr O'Neill also said that another building was already being considered and encouraged the Government to fast-track the process.

"The GRA understands that a new state-of-the-art facility is proposed to house those national units in a different location.

"We would urge the Government to continue with the development and set aside a budget for this new building to ensure Gardaí have the best possible amenities available," Mr O'Neill said.

The OPW has rented the four blocks at Harcourt Square since the 1980s.

Hibernia had applied and failed to have the case fast-tracked to the Commercial Court.

Irish Independent

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