The right moves: Ryan's role with Hines puts him at the cutting edge of development
The property industry has always been good at promoting young talent, and I'm constantly pleasantly surprised at the relative youth of many of the top players in the market.
I was reminded of this last week when I met Kevin Ryan, development director with Hines Real Estate Ireland. Hines, a privately-owned global real estate investment firm, has approximately $100bn of assets under management, and has become a leading player in the Irish market, led by senior managing director, Brian Moran. It seems like just a few short years since I was organising work experience for Ryan, and we chatted about his career progression, to the stage where he is now heading up major development projects.
Kevin Ryan is a chartered surveyor and started his career with Lisney, where he worked in investments and then spent two years with HWBC, mostly in retail agency. In 2007 he joined Tesco, where he was responsible for acquisitions and managing the Tesco portfolio of 147 stores and 18 shopping centres. But for Ryan, the real excitement was in development, and as the market returned to expansion, Ryan was recruited by Hines in 2015 - a firm to which he says he had always been attracted, as a "cutting-edge developer, grounded in good, sustainable planning."
Moran's first task for Ryan was a major project at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, where Hines have sold their interest to German pension fund BVK, but continue as the asset-development manager. Ryan managed the delivery and leasing of the Western Plaza where the strategy was to create a new streetscape, "outward-looking", and a better experience for shoppers. That scheme includes a new Penney's store and six restaurant operators. Ryan is leading the planning process for the extension of the main shopping centre, although that was refused by An Bord Pleanala in April, mainly on traffic grounds, but with the Bord, he says, very positive about the design of the scheme.
He has also been assisting fellow directors with design and development work on the 'town centre' aspect of the Hines holding at Cherrywood, Co Dublin, where a planning application was lodged last week for a 200,000 square metre mixed-use development, including 1,269 build-to-rent apartments and 58,000 square metres of retail, leisure and restaurants.
But Ryan's eyes really light up when he speaks about his newest project, which is the redevelopment of the Central Bank in Dublin 2, now called Central Plaza. Hines own a site of approximately one acre, including the former bank building and a series of surrounding properties. The project is an architect's dream instruction for the firm of Henry J Lyons. On the roof, two floors of plant rooms are being converted to hospitality rooftop space, suitable for a signature restaurant, with views over Dublin from the terraces. At basement level, 87 car spaces are being sacrificed to create a new sunken plaza and an 850 square metre unit. This space, Ryan tells me, will be suitable for retailing, food and beverage, cinema or leisure use.
The iconic Sam Stephenson-designed office building could be perfectly timed for Brexit re-locators and Ryan suggests it will command a premium rent as the famous cantilever design means that the building is 'columnless' and "ideal for financial services, IT or a government department". John Paul Construction are on-site and the building will be ready for fitting-out next October.
Kevin Ryan says that the most fulfilling part of his job is 'placemaking'. "It's taking a blank canvas, and leaving a development that has improved the environment," he said.
Ryan's role includes taking a development project from the concept stage, through to leasing.
"My job is only done when the asset is handed over to the Hines asset manager," he told me. "I have been given the autonomy to procure the design scheme, appoint the design team and oversee the planning and leasing process," he added. Financial models are run with analysts at Hines, to determine the financial viability of each project.
"The best part of the job is leading the design team. My experience in agency helps me foresee legal issues and possible problems for occupiers before they arise. There is nothing more satisfying than getting great feedback from happy tenants, who are trading well."
Hines has developed several landmark buildings around the world, including the famous 'Lipstick Building' in New York and, whilst the development process can be frustrating and challenging, nothing will please Kevin Ryan more than delivering another iconic scheme for Dublin.