Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Iconic' Central Bank building goes up for sale

Central Bank headquarters on Dame Street in Dublin.
Central Bank headquarters on Dame Street in Dublin.
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The eagerly- anticipated sale of the Central Bank’s iconic Dame Street headquarters and other associated properties on Dame Street and College Green has been launched by estate agents, Lisney.

In a somewhat  unusual departure for the market, there are no asking prices for the properties which have the potential to be adapted for an array of uses by potential purchasers.

Lisney director James Nugent expects bidding to be in the region of €65m for the Sam Stephenson-designed Central Bank ‘Tower’ building, and bids in the region of €2m and €14m to be made for Lots 2 and 3 respectively.

The properties all of which are coming to the market with full vacant possession comprise the majority of a city block bounded by College Green and Dame Street to the south, Cope Street to the north, Anglesea Street to the east and Upper Fownes Street to the west.

Nugent says there is the possibility that a single buyer could secure all three lots for in around the €80m he anticipates will be achieved from the sale.  

The properties are to be sold by best bids with formal offers due by October 19. 

The Central Bank’s Tower building is one of Dublin’s most recognisable structures and is likely to draw interest from international buyers. Designed by the late Sam Stephenson, the property which extends to 83,393 sq ft has been described by as a ‘highly assertive building with a bold outline and dramatic styling’. 

The building’s construction was somewhat unusual in that it was built using a cantilevered system located on top of the twin reinforced concrete service cores with each floor suspended from the twin cores by 12 external supports.  The floors including all services were built at ground floor level and then hoisted into place.  Internally, the Tower building is somewhat dated and it’s likely a new owner would at a minimum undertake a substantial refurbishment. The property is not a protected  structure.

The second lot consists of a five storey over basement period building at 9 College Green which was rebuilt by the Sun Fire and Life Assurance Company in 1908.  The building contains many original features including curved balconies with wrought iron balustrades, clerestory feature windows, decorative ceiling finishes, mahogany panelling, some marble flooring and marble stairs.  Unusually the building also benefits from a lift.

The final lot is 6/8 College Green which sits on the site of the original Jury’s Hotel and was built around 1980.  This provides a modern six storey over basement standalone office building of 23,029 sq ft (net including storage/ancillary accommodation) that benefits from dual frontage to College Green and Anglesea Street in Temple Bar.

In anticipation of the sale the Central Bank has commissioned a number of technical due diligence reports which will be made available to potential purchasers.  Amongst these is an indicative master plan for the buildings which has been prepared by Henry J Lyons architects.  This shows a possible en-livening of the plaza area with more associated amenity and retail space.  Another option which may be considered by potential purchasers is conversion into a hotel.  Given the impending pedestrianisation of College Green, it is anticipated there will be increased focus on retail uses at street level.  With this in mind, the buildings’ location on the edge of Temple Bar and in close proximity to Trinity College will be perceived as immensely positive and it is likely creative developers will be keen to buy the buildings.

The Central Bank is moving to their new headquarter building at North Wall Quay which is due to be completed this November.  The site for this was acquired for €7m in 2012 with a total development cost estimated to be approximately €140m.

As with all national central banks, the Central Bank is separate from Government and state.  The proceeds from the sale will be used towards the Bank’s new North Wall Quay premises.

Any profits arising from this sale and relocation process will, as with all Central Bank’s profits form part of the calculation of the Bank’s annual distribution to the Exchequer.

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