Thursday 22 February 2018

Race for Dublin's tallest office building title heats up

Artist's impression of the 'Exo'
Artist's impression of the 'Exo'
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The construction of Dublin's tallest office building - 'The Exo' at Point Square in Dublin's docklands - has moved a step closer following the issue of a tender for the appointment of a building contractor to deliver the development.

Savills and CBRE have been instructed by joint receivers Stephen Tennant and Paul McCann of Grant Thornton to seek pre-letting agreements with tenants for the building which upon completion will reach a height of 73m (239 ft) and have the capacity to acccommodate up to 2,000 office workers.

While the Exo's height may yet be eclipsed by Johnny Ronan's proposed development of an 88m (290 ft) office tower adjoining Tara Street railway station, the north docklands scheme will see the creation of some 350 jobs during its construction phase, which it is anticipated will take approximately 24 months at a cost of €70m.

Planning permission for the 15,800 sq m (170,000 sq ft, net lettable) LEED Gold office building was approved in March 2016, less than six months after the application was submitted to Dublin City Council.

The speed at which planning approval was achieved is being viewed within the property industry as evidence that the designation of the area as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) has worked.

An 'SDZ' designation allows for the fast-track delivery of new residential and non-residential development in locations of strategic importance within the Greater Dublin Area.

Point Square (formerly known as Point Village) is one of only a handful of locations where taller buildings are permitted in Dublin. The Exo, which is designed by Irish architectural practice Shay Cleary Architects, responds to the design brief set out in the SDZ Planning Scheme and reflects the importance of this site within the wider Dublin docklands.

The docklands area has benefited significantly from Dublin's economic recovery in recent years, with demand for commercial and retail space growing rapidly.

In 2014, Yahoo moved its EMEA headquarters, which employs 375 workers to Point Square. The success of the 3Arena concert venue meanwhile has helped make the Gibson Hotel one of the most popular hotels in the City, while the Odeon Cinema, which opened in 2012, continues to grow audience numbers. In addition, Starbucks, Eddie Rockets, Ruby's Bar & Grill and Bunzl, have all either opened or are about to open new stores at The Point Square Shopping Centre.

Commenting on the latest move to progress the Exo building's development, Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton said: "We are delighted to get this project off the ground and look forward to seeing it through to completion. Our first priority is to secure a main building contractor who can deliver a quality scheme on-time and on-budget."

Savills chairman Roland O'Connell said: "The Exo will provide the most spectacular workspace in the city. Its accessibility is unrivalled, with the Luas stopping outside and the Port Tunnel providing quick access to the M50 and a 15 minute trip to Dublin Airport - surely one of the quickest airport links in the world."

Referring to the level of interest that the Exo has already generated, CBRE executive director of office agency, Mark Smyth, said: "Since planning approval was granted for the development of the Exo, we have had numerous enquiries from both local and international office occupiers, all of whom are interested in being part of an area of Dublin that has been completely rejuvenated."

With a recent report from Savills showing that pre-lets accounted for 28,000 sq m (300,000 sq ft), or 44pc, of all the Dublin office space leased in the final quarter of 2016, the Exo building's joint agents believe the quoting rent of €47.50 per square foot is exceptionally competitive for the thriving north docklands area.

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