Business Irish

Monday 19 March 2018

Agency to benefit from €11m sale of UK cinema site


Donal Buckley

NAMA will benefit from the sale of a commercial development site in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, which had been owned by Cork developer Joe Donovan.

Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group, in a joint venture with developer Bellhouse Joseph of London, has paid around £10m (€11.5m) for the property.

Earlier this year Anglo-Irish Bank appointed Savills as receivers for the 1.5-acre property and among the bidders was the local council.

Mr Donovan's company Rydell Properties bought the property, known as the ABC Cinema site, in 2005 for an undisclosed sum and planned to undertake a £75m development with shops, a 137-bed hotel and offices. However, as the market changed they sought to sell the site last year for £8m.

Although a low-profile developer, Mr Donovan provoked controversy when purchasing two major property sites in Cork city during the boom. One was the Wilton Shopping Centre, which he bought from Tesco for €125m in 2004 and then tried to sell on two years later for €285m.

He also planned a €70m commercial development on the site of the landmark Capitol Cinema in the Grand Parade in Cork city centre as well as a major mixed use development in the suburban village of Glanmire.

Located on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Church Road, the Tunbridge Wells site has planning permission for 9,905sqm of retail space, 7,213sqm of office space, a 137-bed hotel and a car park.

The structure has stood empty since 2000 and as well as the cinema, there are retail units formerly occupied by Pizza Hut, Gamleys and Gourmet Burger Bar. Clanricarde House and Hill House are located at the rear of the site.

Irish Independent

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