Business Irish

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Central Bank will plough €50m into Anglo site

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

'Celtic Tiger tombstone' to be new headquarters as €7m deal agreed

THE Central Bank will finance one of the biggest construction developments since the economic collapse, with an estimated €50m project to complete its new headquarters, in a building once called "the tomb of the Celtic Tiger".

Yesterday the Central Bank agreed a €7m deal to buy the half-built office block on the North Wall in Dublin's docklands from the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

The building was planned as an eye-catching headquarters for Anglo Irish Bank, before the bank collapsed,requiring a €30bn taxpayer-funded rescue in 2009.

Anglo Irish Bank did not own the site, once valued at €250m, but backed the project with loans to developer Liam Carroll's Zoe Developments.

Zoe Developments like Anglo was a creature of the boom and went into liquidation with debts of €1.3bn in 2009.

At the Commercial Court Judge Peter Kelly later called the huge abandoned building that is now to house the Central Bank a "fitting tombstone to the Celtic Tiger".

Development of the seven-acre site will take 18 months to complete, and is estimated to cost a further €40m to €50m.

The coveted contract to finish construction is due to be awarded early next year.

At 19,500 sq m the new offices are almost three times the size of the existing Central Bank headquarters.

Extra space

The Central Bank's need for extra space is as much a sign of the times as the decision to down tools on the headquarters for Anglo.

The Central Bank wants a single building to accommodate a huge increase in staff since the beginning of the financial crisis and the end of "light touch regulation".

Rising staff numbers in recent years mean many of the 1,500 Central Bank staff work in rented offices spread across Dublin city centre, not just in the familiar ultra-modern office on Dame Street in Dublin.

The bank plans to begin moving all staff to the new building by mid-2015, excluding 100 or so employed at the National Mint in south Dublin.

The Central Bank will fund the huge new project from its own resources. Last week it announced profits of €1.2bn for 2011 thanks to the interest it charges for emergency loans to the Irish banks. The move means abandoning its current home, a modernist landmark designed by architect Sam Stephenson, the controversial designer of the Dublin civic offices and the ESB headquarters, also in the capital.

The Dame Street building will be put up for sale once construction of the new offices is complete.

Last night executives at the bank said they plan to engage in consultation with traders in and around Temple Bar and Dame Street, and other interested parties, before the final move.

NAMA took control of the North Wall site after taking over the bank loans that backed the original project. Receivers were appointed last year, charged with finding a buyer.

The bad bank is understood to have fully recovered the price it paid for the loans from yesterday's €7m deal.

NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh said: "We're delighted with the deal that has been concluded with the Central Bank of Ireland and we are very happy with the price secured for the asset."

Dublin property players say there is a shortage of large scale, high spec office space in Dublin because construction on any scale was abandoned from 2008 onwards.

Internet giant Facebook and US financial institution Bank of New York Mellon, one of the biggest employers in the IFSC, are understood to have looked at the Anglo site, before the deal between NAMA and the Central Bank was agreed yesterday.

Irish Independent

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