Tuesday 13 November 2018

On Raglan Road, the residents are revolting over Twitter plan

Twitter: Moves afoot
Twitter: Moves afoot
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Brian Farren, the Dublin-based barrister who has rubbed shoulders with Bill and Hillary Clinton, is among the residents of the exclusive Raglan Road who have objected to multi-million-euro plans to redevelop a building that Twitter intends to use as its European HQ.

US investment firm Kennedy Wilson plans a revamp of an existing six-storey office block on Upper Baggot Street that was once the HQ for state agency FAS. But Raglan Road residents claim the plans are "merely an attempt to squeeze extra office space at the top of an office block" without regard to surrounding "classic buildings", such as the former Royal City of Dublin Hospital.

Residents opposed to the plans also include Daniel Donovan, CEO of investment firm Sanix Assets; solicitor James O'Reilly; and former Waterford Wedgwood CFO Patrick Dowling.

Mr Farren, who is a US citizen, and his wife, Linda O'Shea Farren, recently held a high-profile fundraiser in their Raglan Road home for Hilary Clinton in anticipation of her running for the US presidency in 2016. Nearly 100 guests attended the event, with tickets costing either $1,000 or $5,000. About $50,000 (€39,000) was raised.

Bill Clinton attended a similar event for his wife at the Raglan Road mansion in 2007 as she attempted to secure the 2008 presidential nomination.

Kennedy Wilson, which acquired the Baggot Street building earlier this year as part of a €472m buying spree that included nearly 300 apartments in south Dublin, secured the go-ahead from Dublin City Council last month to increase the footprint of the office by about 50pc.

The company apparently convinced Twitter that it could undertake the renovation rapidly and to the microblogging giant's exact specifications. Twitter has agreed to move its European HQ and 200 staff to the redeveloped premises. It would then have space for up to 1,000 employees at the site.

But the Raglan Road residents have appealed the council's decision to grant permission to An Bord Pleanala and a decision on that appeal will be made by the end of February. They insist that the scale of the proposed building is too great, and that a planned penthouse at the top of it should be removed and the building otherwise reduced in height.

"Baggot Street Upper should be the natural shopping area for the slowly returning residential user of Baggot Street Lower, Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square," they argued.

A number of US internet firms have been expanding in Dublin. US company LinkedIn has just announced it will build a huge new European HQ in a move that could see it double its workforce to 1,200.

Sunday Indo Business

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