Wednesday 17 January 2018

Irish developer plans €100m project in Germany

McGrath construction have earmarked this site in Rostock for a €100m construction project
McGrath construction have earmarked this site in Rostock for a €100m construction project

Donal Buckley

McGrath Group Properties, the Irish development and investment company, has submitted a planning application for a €100m mixed-use development in the north German city of Rostock.

McGrath's plans include a new quarter extending to 45,000 sq m (484,376 sq ft) with a retail focus on its larger west side, and a hotel and long-stay residential focus on its east side, facing Neuer Markt, the city's main square.

The project, to be known as Rosengarten Center Rostock, will be located in the main shopping district of the port city which is the largest city in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Designed to enhance and strengthen Rostock's inner-city shopping and cultural district, the new shopping quarter will have a mix of large format retail stores and several smaller stores - with rentable areas ranging from 50 sq m to 5,000 sq m accommodating a mix of fashion, leisure and sports outlets. All stores will have street frontage thus facilitating occupiers to minimise operational costs.

The plans show that the hotel will have 135 bedrooms and to complement this hotel, an apartment hotel with 132 serviced furnished apartments will be included in the development. In addition, the upper floors will accommodate a fitness centre, offices and medical practices.

McGrath Group are hoping to get the green light for this project in the fourth quarter of this year and hope to commence construction work in 2016.

"We already have healthy interest from retailers and hotel operators, and once planning is completed we will hopefully be in a strong position to conclude these negotiations," said director Mary McGrath.

Rostock has a population of 200,000 and the catchment area of the proposed development has a population of 500,000. A renowned university city with as many as 15,000 students attending courses, its city centre has a concentrated retail core, which would strengthen the appeal of Rosengarten for both retailers and shoppers.

The new centre is also intended to act as a magnet, attracting significant additional shoppers to Rostock and this section of the street, and draw visitors through the existing shopping areas. The Rosengarten development concept has been refined over the past two years to adjust to the strong current market demand in Rostock and to take into account inputs from the city's design committee and planning authority.

A spokesperson for McGrath Group said that since the project was announced, there has been very positive feedback. The Chamber of Commerce and the City Retail Organisation have welcomed the project. The head of the Planning Committee, Herr Giesen, of the CDU party was quoted in the Ostsee Zeitung as saying "Ich finde das Toll !" - "I find this fantastic!"

Headquartered in Maynooth, McGrath Group Properties was founded in the early 1980's. Initially it developed residential properties for the Irish rental market and later expanded into large investment and development projects. It established and sold some substantial property investment companies along with award winning residential projects. It has been especially successful in developing or refurbishing properties in central urban areas of Dublin, southern England and Germany.

For instance in 1997 it completed and sold the award winning Clifden Court development on Dublin's North Quays consisting of 10,000 sq ft of retail space, 187 apartments and 102 underground parking spaces. Since the crash, at a time when very few Irish developers constructed apartments, it undertook two Dublin apartment projects which have sold out.

"In 2012 it became clear that there was significant value in the Irish development market so we reignited our Irish development arm," Ms McGrath said.

That year the group bought Auburn Lodge in Killiney, Co. Dublin, a then uncompleted complex of 31 apartments which it completed and sold. Soon afterwards it acquired a former office block in Dun Laoghaire and converted it into The Crofton a complex with 25 high end apartments with sea views.

Before the crash, during the mid-1990's, it expanded into the UK setting up both investment and development companies.

"In the early 2000's we became concerned about the Irish market and decided to stop speculative development just building out our existing Irish portfolio. At the same time we continued to expand in the UK and diversified into mainland Europe, in particular Germany, " she added.

Its German portfolio includes two properties in Berlin, one of which has five office units in Oranienburger Chaussee 62, about 16kms north-west of the city centre and the other is a seven storey mixed use residential and commercial property at Gartenstrasse in the "Mitte Von Berlin" which is the central sub-district of Berlin. The group also has properties in Grimma in the state of Leipzig and Zwickau in the state of Saxony.

It has also undertaken a number of projects in England, including Britania Hotel, a 134 bedroom hotel in Brighton; the refurbishment of Mitre House and its conversion from a hotel to a 62 apartment complex. It is currently in completing the construction of a Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Bristol which is due to open its doors towards the end of next month.

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