Friday 17 January 2020

€107m price tag for RTÉ site at Montrose stuns property market

An aerial picture of the RTÉ lands in Montrose, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
An aerial picture of the RTÉ lands in Montrose, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

The sale of the 8.5-acre RTÉ site in Montrose to Cairn Homes for €107.5m is the highest price shelled out for residential land in Ireland in a decade.

Property market sources are "flabbergasted" at the price paid for a site that was guided at €75m.

The most recent on this scale was Ray Grehan's €62m paid for 6.5 acres in Howth in 2007 - and no residential site has exceeded €100m since Mr Grehan spent €171.5m on the two-acre UCD Veterinary College site in Ballsbridge in 2005. It was sold on again in 2013 for €22.5m, a price cut of 87pc.

Now the sale of the Montrose site progresses a saga that has kept the attention of station bosses at RTÉ for years.

Some 500 apartments are expected to be built on the site, which would equate to a purchase price per unit of more than €181,000.

The scriptwriters at 'Fair City' now know that their kitchen set at Carrigstown is to be levelled to make way for the luxury homes. The new residents will nonetheless be close to the main radio and television studios where household names, such as Miriam O'Callaghan (right) and Ryan Tubridy ply their trade.

In a statement, RTÉ's Director General Dee Forbes said the decision to sell the land had been taken because RTÉ has been operating with vastly reduced commercial and licence fee income of approximately €100m annually.

Ms Forbes said the funds raised would be invested in capital projects, essential workplace improvements and reducing debt.

She added: "RTÉ is playing catch-up in an industry and market that is evolving rapidly, as Irish audiences embrace new technologies which are influencing how and when they consume content, including RTÉ content.

"The investment which has been enabled by this land sale, along with further restructuring of the organisation, will allow us to better serve the needs of our audiences."

Mark Reynolds, director of Savills Ireland, said this was an exciting opportunity for those hoping to get on the property ladder.

"When we launched Project Montrose to the market back in April, we described it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be part of a truly transformative development story in one of Dublin's most affluent and fashionable areas," he said.

"The competitive bidding process and final sale price of €107.5m are testament to that. We now look forward to seeing this development come to life and providing a new, high-quality scheme in Dublin 4."

Sources experienced in residential land sales said the €107.5m tag "doesn't add up" in terms of "regular" development at any price above €60m.

But Cairn Homes Plc is a shrewd operator, which stood through the crash and has eight active sites in greater Dublin.

The key might be found in recent comments by Cairn chief executive Michael Stanley, who said Ireland's new home developers needed a "new approach" to succeed.

Property sources say the way to get a site like this to work financially could be for one very big investor to rent it out en masse.

Irish Independent

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