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Developers eyeing up unfinished Anglo offices

A number of overseas property development funds are exploring the possibility of acquiring the unfinished Anglo Irish docklands office building with a view to completing it and letting it out to a bank.

The move comes as a number of banks are shopping around for office space in Dublin city centre. Sources close to a number of the banks have denied any interest in acquiring the Anglo building themselves and finishing it.

These include National Irish Bank which is close to completing a letting deal for a new 6,000sqm headquarters in north docklands which would consolidate its existing IFSC operation and its Tallaght headquarters.

The Central Bank says it has no specific proposals yet as to how it might consolidate its city centre offices which are currently dispersed between a building at Spencer Dock, in the north docklands, another at Iveagh Court, Harcourt Road, in addition to its 6,500sqm headquarters in Dame St. It has commissioned agents Lisney to come up with proposals for between 5,600sqm and 18,000sqm of office accommodation.

The bank will also need space to accommodate extra staff being recruited by the Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield in order to tighten controls on the private and nationalised banks.

While a number of its 1,500 staff have expressed a preference for retaining its iconic Dame St office building, the board is under pressure to consolidate into one building because it was felt that the Government made a mistake when it separated the financial regulator from the bank.

With Dublin vacancy levels running at over 20pc there are plenty of offices available. In the city centre these include about 9,000sqm at Harry Crosbie's Point and 3 Spencer Dock in Dublin 1, 15,300sqm at the Burlington Plaza as well as the older Burlington House in Dublin 4.

In south docklands Observatory extends to 7,521sqm. and both 3 and 5 Grand Canal Square and Sean Dunne's Blood Stone are available.

On the northside the Gateway offers 7,250sqm, Pinnacle 2 at East Point extends to 10,220sqm, Liam Carroll's Beckett Building on East Road, Dublin 3 offers around 7,300sqm and John Byrne's Kings Building in Smithfield, Dublin 7, extends to 16,722sqm.

Meanwhile Jones Lang LaSalle's Fionnuala O'Buachalla has alerted agents that an international client is exploring a requirement for a 27,900sqm office campus in Dublin or two UK locations. The preference is for one near a rail line which could include Sandyford or East Point.

With all of these requirements Willie Dowling, of CB Richard Ellis, is confident that 130,000sqm of office space will be taken up this year. Prime headline rents in the city centre are quoted at €345 per sqm and €183 per sqm in the south suburbs.

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