Tuesday 24 October 2017

IFSC and docklands set for major revamp backed by NAMA cash

Nama chief Frank Daly
'UNPOPULAR' COMMENTS: Nama chief Frank Daly
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA will fund major construction schemes to "fill in the gaps" of half-built and empty sites around Dublin's IFSC that were left when the property market crashed five years ago.

The state-controlled National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) says it plans to make "significant investments" to develop office space in the Dublin docklands area.

Sites on both sides of the Liffey will be developed but the focus will be on the area north of the river, which is due to become the new home to the Central Bank.

NAMA will use part of a €1bn-a-year budget it has already ear-marked for investment in construction projects over the next four years. Until now, much of the investment spending has gone into projects in the UK, to prepare developments there for sale.

NAMA chairman Frank Daly said the new construction programme would be aimed at building large-scale, high-end offices for multinational companies in the docklands area.

It is already home to major international banks and technology companies including Citigroup and Google. A shortage is developing of suitable space for companies that want to cluster in the area.

NAMA normally invests in projects by providing loans to developers or receivers to finish stalled projects.

The agency has an income of €300m a month, from sales of property and loans and from rents.

Mr Daly said his agency would not back speculative developments, but would work with agencies including the IDA to ensure there was suitable office space available for companies that want to locate here.

Major player

NAMA is a major player in the docklands area thanks to security it holds over developers' loans backed by sites in and around the IFSC.

The agency was also handed a number of properties last year by another state body, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), in exchange for writing off debts.

Even after two decades of development and with as many as 40,000 working in the IFSC, much of the area of former docks and industrial buildings is derelict, or abandoned.

The most notorious ghost development in the area is the half-built property that was to be the home of Anglo Irish Bank. NAMA has sold that property to the Central Bank.

NAMA has finance to back new developments and believes there will be demand for property, but the pace of construction will depend on planning and environmental issues, according to the NAMA chairman.

The designation by Environment Minister Phil Hogan of the docklands as a "strategic development zone" would help unlock potential in the area, Mr Daly said.

However, key infrastructure to deal with water and effluent was needed to develop the area to its full potential, he warned. In some cases, NAMA would be able to contribute if new infrastructure was needed, he said.

Irish Independent

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