Monday 17 June 2019

Paul McNeive: 'World-class Sandyford will not be resting on its laurels'

The right moves

Paul McNeive
Paul McNeive

Paul McNeive

I HAD a very interesting role last Tuesday when I facilitated a meeting for the Sandyford Business District (SBD), which is a voluntary board of stakeholders, dedicated to making the area a world class business district in which to live, work and to visit.

The meeting (held under the "Chatham House Rule") was attended by occupiers, agents, developers, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and representatives of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. The session had two main objectives; gather feedback for the SBD's early engagement in the review of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Development Plan, and hear suggestions as to how standards can be raised even further.

The meeting was held in One South County, the 12,840 sq m office building fronting Leopardstown Roundabout, recently completed by developer Cyril Maguire. It is a stunning building, with the highest quality of finishes, and attendees enjoyed coffees on the roof-garden, with panoramic views over the city.

Sandyford Business District, Dublin 18, is made up of four zones across 960 ha, comprising Central Park, Sandyford Business Park, South County Business Park and Stillorgan Business Park. It is home to more than 1,000 companies, 26,000 employees and 5,000 residents. The transformation of the area, from the original industrial estates, into a contemporary business and residential location, has been dramatic. However, some old habits die hard, and agents were reminded to cease using the "Sandyford Industrial Estate" name, abandoned in 2008.

The location is synonymous with Microsoft which has expanded rapidly over 30 years and now employs more than 2,000 people, and Microsoft are adjoined by a glitterati of world-leading companies, including 13 from the 2018 Fortune 500 list.

The location is underpinned by the Luas service and M50. An interesting new development is the advent of major companies, already located in the city-centre, establishing second locations in Sandyford, and examples include Google and Facebook. This is made possible by the Luas connection and allows city occupiers to consider availing of the lower rents in the suburbs. Another example is the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and it was noted that students can attend lectures in the city-centre and Sandyford by using the Luas.

There was strong agreement corporates and residential developers must continue to work closely together, as they are co-dependent. Approximately 1,000 new apartments will be delivered within the next 12 months, and the arrival of developers and long-term landlords like IRES REIT in the area was welcomed.

A strong selection of facilities in the area, including two four-star hotels, will be boosted by the recent arrival of the Press-Up Entertainment Group into Beacon South Quarter.

The SBD established a Business Improvement District company in 2017, under the Local Government BID Act, to represent businesses, employees and residents. That company is funded by way of a levy and it is actively focused on seven areas - business attraction, business support, cost savings, infrastructure, marketing, wellbeing and "Smart Sandyford." Successes under the latter heading have seen Sandyford designated as a "Smart District" with the objective to deliver permanent, smart improvements.

Apart from the multinationals, there is a vibrant small-business sector which will be encouraged further. Another notable development has been the "cluster effect" with, for example, medical clinics and consultants locating around the Beacon Hospital and a hub of motor-dealers.

With 380,000 sq m of office space, and a "Grade A" vacancy rate of just 2.1pc, it's clear Sandyford remains a premium choice of location. However, the very active SBD group will not be "resting on their laurels" and having gathered a new crop of ideas this week, they will be working hard towards making more improvements.

For more information on the Sandyford Business District, visit Sandyford.ie

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