Johnny Ronan makes bold bid for Central Bank's HQ
Hibernia Reit, Johnny Ronan's Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE), developer Eamonn Duignan and the UK property group U+I are among a number of parties understood to have submitted offers to acquire the Central Bank's Dame Street headquarters by the close of bidding yesterday.
The Irish Independent understands that other parties who had expressed an interest in the building and its associated portfolio decided not to follow through with an offer, having formed the view that the indicative pricing of €65m given to the Stephenson 'Tower' by selling agents, Lisney, was excessive.
With the sale of the Central Bank's Dame Street headquarters being conducted on a 'best bids' basis, yesterday's process represented the one and only opportunity for potential purchasers to make an offer.
It is understood the detail of the individual bids will be presented to the board of the Central Bank, with the identity of the successful purchaser of the portfolio announced shortly thereafter.
Lisney expects bidding to be in the region of €2m and €14m for Lots 2 and 3 in the Central Bank portfolio. The second lot consists of five-storey over basement period building at 9 College Green which extends to 5,236 sq ft, while the final lot is 6/8 College Green, which sits on the site of the original Jury's Hotel.
Quite apart from the requirement to submit the highest offer and be in a position to complete the purchase of the Central Bank's Dame Street headquarters, its new owners will have to comply with a number of conditions of sale set down by the Central Bank.
One rather unusual stipulation requires the purchaser of the Central Bank Tower to seek permission from the Central Bank should they wish to remove the famous Crann an Oir sculpture from its present position on the bank's main plaza.
The Central Bank made the decision not to move the Eamon Doherty designed 'tree of gold' sculpture after taking external advice and carrying out an internal assessment prior to putting its headquarters on the market.
Should they wish to move the sculpture, the Dame Street building's new owners will also have to apply to Dublin City Council for planning permission as part of the conditions set down by the Central Bank. It will also remain open to the Central Bank to exercise an option to acquire the sculpture from the Dame Street building's new owners for a nominal sum at any point, the Irish Independent understands.
While there has been speculation that the Central Bank headquarters could be converted for hotel use, sources familiar with the matter said this was unlikely given the estimate that the building could accommodate just 108 hotel rooms. That esimate was contained in the master plan drawn up for the Central Bank portfolio by Henry J Lyons architects.
Based on a €65m price tag, any buyer proposing to redevelop the Stephenson-designed building as a hotel would be paying an effective €601,000 per room before the commencement of any conversion or refurbishment.
To put that figure in context, the German company Deka-Bank paid the equivalent of €360,000 per room with its recent €180m purchase of the four-star, former Burlington Hotel from US private equity giant, Blackstone.