Business Irish

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Untangling mess will be a hard task

Donal Buckley

THE banks and other creditors will find it more difficult to disentangle Bernard McNamara's property empire than those of other developers.

This is because he is not the sole shareholder in a number of his companies.

  • Irish Glass Bottle site

The 24-acre Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, Dublin 4, stands on reclaimed land. Mr McNamara envisaged developing a new mini-city with waterfront views over Dublin Bay. He paid €412m, but the property is now worth only €60m.

He personally only invested about €5m towards its purchase price, but he persuaded a number of investors and banks to come up with the remainder. These include the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and Anglo Irish Bank.

He is also suing DDDA for more than €62m arising from an alleged failure to meet its obligations.

  • Elm Park

The Elm Park apartment and office on Merrion Road, Dublin, was valued in 2007 as a €485m development project. It is owned by Radora Developments, of which 56pc is owned by Mr McNamara. Two other shareholders, Jerry O'Reilly (20pc) and David Courtney (24pc), are also partners.

Accounts for 2007 showed Radora then owed €492m to creditors, including €430m to banks.

The project won a number of awards. It also proved controversial as Mr McNamara and his partners sought to recoup profits from those who bought the first apartments from the plans.

When south-Dublin apartment prices were escalating, the developers decided to make the deals less attractive. So they introduced a clawback clause whereby buyers would give the developers 100pc of the profits if the buyers sold within a year. The clawback would have continued for up to 10 years at a lower rate each year.

  • Burlington Hotel

Mr McNamara paid €288m for the Burlington Hotel in 2005, just before the market peaked and, in 2006, he paid a further €100m for the adjoining Allianz building on Burlington Road.

Last year, he got planning permission for a major office development on the sites.

However, he announced that he would postpone the plans until the market improved. Bank of Scotland Ireland is a shareholder in the company that owns the Burlington.

The hotel continues to operate as the largest conference and banqueting hotel in Dublin city centre.

  • Tara Towers

Tara Towers is another hotel which Mr McNamara bought for its development potential.

He submitted major plans for a high-rise re-development of Tara Towers in Booterstown, Co Dublin, next to his Elm Park development.

Other Dublin hotels with which he is associated include the Shelbourne in St Stephen's Green, in which he is a shareholder, and The Conrad, in which he owns 50pc.

He also bought The Montrose Hotel on Stillorgan Road from the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group. This closed last week.

  • Ormonde Hotel, Dublin

The Ormonde Hotel appears to have been bought as part of a bid to expand the site on Ormonde Quay, where the head office for his building company, Michael McNamara & Co, is located.

He gutted the interior of the hotel but then changed his mind and decided to sell it last year. However demand for hotels collapsed.

  • Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel

Parknasilla came with some 200 acres of land, which offered the opportunity for further development. He also owns the Radisson SAS in Galway.

  • Clarendon Pub

He bought The Clarendon pub in Clarendon St which was at one time operated by the Stokes twins. It is one of a number of properties that he bought between Grafton Street and South Great George's Street as he assembled a site for a major shopping development.

  • 22 Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4

Once the location for the Japanese Embassy, Mr McNamara's home was bought in 1998 for €2.95m and last year it was valued at around €10m.

Irish Independent

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