Sunday 22 April 2018

Fingleton's boomtime plans fall flat

Property dream goes up in smoke with site firesale

Donal Buckley

IT was supposed to be a dream Celtic Tiger development personally spearheaded by Irish Nationwide's then boss Michael Fingleton.

But now, three years after they were due to be unveiled with lavish price tags to match, a collection of supposedly upmarket apartments are to be sold at firesale prices.

Michael Fingleton is now gone as chief executive and so too are the kind of boomtime profits his building society hoped to recoup from its investment.

Apartments at Booterstown Wood, a landmark Dublin site at the junction of Booterstown Avenue and Stillorgan Road, will go on sale this weekend with a much-reduced price of €215,000 for one-bedroom units and €289,000 for two-bedroom units.

The two-bedroom prices are less than half the €625,000 which was paid at the peak of the market for two-bedroom apartments just across the road in the Thornwood development.

With some apartments enjoying sea views over Dublin Bay as well as views over Dublin city, Mr Fingleton would have expected the project to gross up to €40m.

Then, as chief of Irish Nationwide, he gave the go-ahead for construction at the peak of the market. Now, the sales agent Ken MacDonald, of Hooke and MacDonald, says the 62 apartments are likely to gross less than €19m.

Proceeds from the sales will go to Irish Nationwide, the building society which is now owned by the Government and had been Mr Fingleton's business fiefdom.

Mr Fingleton bought the site almost 30 years ago and for years many neighbours and people in the property market believed that it was his personal investment.

However, it turns out that the land was in fact owned by the building society, which spent €22.4m on its development. Mr Fingleton was supposed to launch them in 2007 but the launch was postponed then and again in 2009.

This weekend the agents will release 20 apartments for sale. These include two-bedroom duplex penthouses which measure 95sqm and are now priced at €355,000.

At the peak of the boom, three-bedroom penthouses at the neighbouring Thornwood were priced from €1.05m.

These developments are in a pivotal location on the edge of the N11 route to the city centre and within walking distance of the 46A quality bus corridor and Booterstown Dart station.

It is also within walking distance of UCD, Stillorgan shopping centre and a short bus ride from RTE's Montrose studios.

Designed by O'Mahony Pike Architects, with seven floors over a basement car park, the development comprises 13 one-bedroom apartments, 42 two-bedroom apartments and seven two-bedroom duplex penthouses.

Features include own-door entrances, sun balconies, residents' roof gardens, stylish kitchens with granite worktops and contemporary bathrooms.

Irish Independent

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