A BUILDER who paid a record amount for a site in Dublin 4 has been forced to turn it into a car park in a bid to raise money.
Developer Ray Grehan has been left with no other option after he abandoned plans to develop the old UCD veterinary college site due to the property slump.
The owner of Glenkerrin Homes shelled out an unprecedented €171.5m four years ago for the sought-after south Dublin site. But this week the horsey-set will park their trucks there while they attend the Dublin Horse Show at the nearby RDS.
Show organisers revealed that they were looking for extra parking capacity after prices in the area increased substantially. And Mr Grehan has confirmed that the former veterinary college will now be used as a car park for the five-day show, which begins on Wednesday. The site on Shelbourne Road earned the property developer a mention in the history books when he splashed the cash, with the deal equating to around €84m an acre for the site, which is just over two acres.
In June planners granted permission for Mr Grehan to develop the site.
However, due to the slump in property prices, Mr Grehan said he would not be developing it in the current climate. He hopes the market will have turned around within two years, and that the site will once again be a prime development.
In the meantime, it will serve as a car park.
"Due to a substantial increase in the cost of parking at the Old Belvedere Rugby & Football Club in 2009, the RDS will provide two alternative parking options for the show," the Dublin Horse Show website says. "Parking will be available at the old veterinary college site in Ballsbridge for trucks."
It will cost €350 to park a truck at the site for a week, while a truck with an awning will cost €600.
This compares with the Old Belvedere Rugby Football Club in the heart of Dublin 4 charging €1,500 for a 12 metre-plus truck down to €500 for a small truck or caravan for the week, while awnings will cost €250 extra.
The Dublin Horse Show said that the alternative parking arrangements at the old veterinary site had been organised at a "substantial cost to the RDS".
"We felt that we had to do something to offset the cost," a spokeswoman for the show said. "All our spaces are now booked. We had a very positive reaction from the exhibitors."
Tens of thousands of people will be travelling to the capital this week for the 136th Dublin Horse Show. More than 1,400 horses will be taking part in the show, while international showjumpers, members of the Army equestrian team and top Irish riders will be bidding for a slice of the €900,000 prize.