Thursday 18 January 2018

Potential buyers rule out idea of Central Bank hotel

Based on its €65m price, the Central Bank’s estimated 108 hotel rooms would cost €601,000 each
Based on its €65m price, the Central Bank’s estimated 108 hotel rooms would cost €601,000 each
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The number of 'serious bidders' for the Central Bank's iconic Dame Street headquarters is expected to come down to just three or four parties by the time the October 19 deadline for best bids on the property and its associated portfolio arrives.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, several of those who viewed the Sam Stephenson-designed Tower offered widely divergent views in relation to the building's potential and the indicative €65m pricing given by selling agents Lisney.

Those members of the public hoping to see the Dame Street building refashioned as a hotel look set to be disappointed, with one source declaring bluntly that "the numbers for a hotel simply don't stack up".

The individual in question said they arrived at that assessment having inspected the building and examined the master plan drawn up for the Central Bank portfolio by Henry J Lyons architects, which estimates that the building could accommodate just 108 hotel rooms.

Based on the suggested €65m price tag, any buyer proposing to redevelop it as a hotel would be paying an effective €601,000 per room before the commencement of any conversion or refurbishment.

To put that figure in context, the German company DekaBank paid the equivalent of €360,000 per room with its recent €180m purchase of the four-star, former Burlington Hotel from US private equity giant, Blackstone.

In acquiring the hotel, which now trades as the Doubletree Hilton, DekaBank also benefited from the estimated €20m refurbishment carried out by Blackstone following its own acquisition of the property in 2012.

The conversion of the Central Bank's HQ for use as office and retail space appears more likely, with a number of those parties who viewed the property telling the Irish Independent of the potential for its plaza to accommodate a retail offering separate to the main building.

The bank's two floors of underground car parking also offer the opportunity for conversion to retail use, one potential buyer said.

Interestingly, while the 83,393 sq ft Stephenson Tower is a Dublin landmark - with website, describing it as "a highly assertive building with a bold outline and dramatic styling" - the property is not a protected structure.

Lisney, meanwhile, expect bidding to be in the region of €2m and €14m for Lots 2 and 3 in the Central Bank portfolio.

The properties - all of which are coming to the market with full vacant possession - comprise the majority of a city block bounded by College Green and Dame Street to the south, Cope Street to the north, Anglesea Street to the east and Upper Fownes Street to the west.

The second lot consists of a five storey over basement period building at 9 College Green which extends to 5,236 sq ft.

The final lot is 6/8 College Green, which sits on the site of the original Jury's Hotel.

This provides a modern, six-storey over basement standalone office building of 23,029 sq ft (net including storage/ancillary accommodation).

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