Business Irish

Monday 9 December 2019

NAMA plans Canary Wharf-style 
redevelopment of the Docklands

Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf
Frank Daly and Michael Noonan
Frank Daly

Colm Kelpie

NAMA has been charged with developing Dublin's Docklands to rival prime international waterfront sites like London's Canary Wharf or Singapore's Marina Bay.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the area was very important strategically to both the economic life of the capital and the entire country.

The toxic loans agency has also committed to repaying a minimum of 80pc of its senior debt by 2016 - two years earlier than planned - which the minister said could potentially boost the value of state-owned AIB. Setting out the strategy for the bad bank in its final years, Mr Noonan said the Docklands provided a "unique opportunity" for both NAMA and the taxpayer to develop Grade A office space, retail and residential units.

"I think it has the potential to be the Canary Wharf of Dublin," the minister said.

"If you look at all the European cities and the great American cities, there's hardly any city left that has such an extensive piece of development land so near a centre which also has a waterfront."

Mr Noonan said NAMA has the opportunity to bring the area to life and rival other international lcoations like Boston's Seaport and Singapore's Marina Bay.

NAMA's investment in the Docklands would mean the creation of 14,000 construction jobs and 4,000 ancillary jobs, the Department of Finance said.

"These lands are a valuable resource to the city and state and must be managed carefully as a strategic resource. And the regeneration of Dublin Docklands will provide a powerful eastern flank to Dublin's inner city," Mr Noonan said.

The minister said there was more strategic space available in Dublin, proportionally, than in London and he claimed the taxpayer would get a "very big payback" on that.

NAMA chairman Frank Daly said its strategy for the Docklands is well advanced and it is working closely with Dublin City Council and Irish Water to tackle infrastructural issues.

Dublin Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) is twice the size of phases one and two of the IFSC. Combined, the Docklands SDZ and IFSC equates to 40pc of the total commercial floor space of Canary Wharf, the Department of Finance said.

The department said the IFSC and North Lotts/Grand Canal Dock SDZ will comprise 544,000m2 of Grade A commercial space and about 45,000 employees, equating to more than 40pc of the total commercial space and 45pc of the total employment in Canary Wharf.

Mr Daly said the agency would need to provide additional funding of about €3bn to realise the Docklands plan and to help tackle Dublin's housing shortage. The agency is to fund up to half of Dublin's housing needs over the next five years.

"We have sites, we have finance, we have expertise and we also have a commercial rationale for going down that road," Mr Daly said. "It's now at the stage that we can justify commercially, investment in those."

Mr Daly also said NAMA will repay all its senior and subordinated debt, and deliver a surplus for the taxpayer, with about €6bn of debt left to be repaid by 2016.

Mr Noonan said NAMA had proved to be very successful.

"It has done the job so far that we have asked it to do. And it's two years ahead of schedule on the timeline for the disposal of the assets," the minister said.

"It looks now as if it's going to be a quite profitable organisation and all the indications are that it will run a surplus - and a significant surplus - by the time it has disposed of the remainder of its assets."

It comes as a 400-acre site in Cherrywood, south Dublin, which includes a business park and development lands, has been put up for sale with a guide price of more than €220m by Savills. It is being sold on behalf of receiver Grant Thornton.

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