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Expanding AirBnB shuns move to former Facebook HQ in Dublin


Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the AirBnB offices in Dublin last April

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the AirBnB offices in Dublin last April

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the AirBnB offices in Dublin last April

AirBnB is taking more space in its current location rather than moving into Facebook's old headquarters at Hanover Quay.

The US firm, which acts as a broker for people who want to rent out their room or other accommodation to holidaymakers, set up in the Watermarque Building in Dublin 4 earlier this year.

The company took two floors in the property but has quickly outgrown that space.

AirBnB executives have been seeking new space for some time and are understood to have viewed the former Facebook European offices at Hanover Quay.

Despite media reports that a deal had been done, the company decided not to move to that location.

Instead, AirBnB have taken a third floor in the Watermarque Building beside Shelbourne Park while it assesses its options. A spokesman for the company said it had no plans beyond that at present.

This is the first time the Watermarque has been fully let since it was completed in the last decade.

AirBnB's move does not affect the other tenants, which include gambling firm Betfair and financial services firm Lawrence Life.

The company's decision not to move leaves one of the top office blocks in Dublin vacant, but it will also provide the IDA with a showpiece property to pitch to companies that may want to set up or expand in Dublin.

The investment agency is already believed to be pitching it to its client companies.

With high quality office space so limited in the more expensive areas of the capital such as Dublin 2 and Dublin 4, any large property is becoming much more valuable.

Facebook moved from Hanover Quay to four Grand Canal Square during the summer and has just agreed to take the building next door at 5 Hanover Quay, effectively doubling the amount of space it has here.

However the company will pay a steep price in rent to take on that property, which was developed by Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land. It is understood Facebook will pay about €45 per square foot for the space they are about to take up. That is the highest rent seen in years in Dublin.

According to CBRE, which acts as agent over the Watermarque Building along with Murphy Mulhall, there are only three offices with over 100,000 sq ft available immediately in central Dublin.

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The IDA has been highlighting this issue for more than a year, and has warned that lack of suitable office space may well end up putting a foreign multi- national off investing here.

As a result, the country may lose out on thousands of jobs, the IDA warn.

AirBnB and Facebook are not the only tech firms that are keeping their property agents busy in recent weeks.

Twitter has agreed to move from its current base at the Academy Building on Pearse Street in Dublin to the former FAS headquarters on Baggot Street.

That property is owned by US firm Kennedy Wilson and is in need of some refurbishment.

Kennedy Wilson has secured planning permission to rebuild and extend the building to approximately 185.000 sq ft.

Further up the Grand Canal, professional networking site LinkedIn has bought a site next door to its current offices on Ely Place and plans to build a new block with more than 120,000 sq ft of space.

That will more than double its presence in Dublin.

Google, however, was the first mover in the space. The company was already entrenched in Gordon Street when it bought the Montevetro office block at the bottom of the market in January 2011.

Google paid just under €99m for that property, which was developed by Treasury Holdings.

The fact that AirBnB has taken up the last floor of the Watermarque is also something of a coup for CBRE and Murphy Mulholland, who manage the building.

While the Watermarque is a well fitted-out building, the offices have relatively narrow floorplates, and this was widely seen as why the building had struggled to attract new tenants.