Tuesday 24 October 2017

Nama close to sealing deal to sell off Anglo's unfinished Docklands HQEYESORE: Work on the Anglo Irish Bank's headquarters on the Docklands was hampered by legal disputes

Nick Webb and  Jerome Reilly

THE hulking carcass of Anglo Irish Bank's unfinished headquarters in the Dublin Docklands may be close to changing hands.

Sources have indicated that US bank BNY Mellon and five other parties are vying to buy the skeleton building from Nama, with a deal expected to be announced in coming weeks.

The former Anglo HQ was developed by developer Liam Carroll but work on the building stopped abruptly when rival developers challenged its legality. Nama subsequently took control of the building when the economy collapsed.

The Central Bank has also expressed an interest in moving operations to the site.

Property sources have estimated that the partially finished structure could change hands for €5m, but that upwards of €30m will have to be spent to finish off the building works.

The concrete hulk of the building has become a potent symbol of Ireland's property and financial collapse over the past three years, with pictures of it appearing in international TV programmes and magazine articles.

Originally, Anglo provided the funding for the development to Mr Carroll's company, North Quay Investments, and was to rent part of the development as its intended new headquarters.

But in February last year, Anglo formally ended its agreement to occupy the bank's ill-fated headquarters in the north Dublin Docklands.

The bank, nationalised in 2009, withdrew from its pre-agreed option to lease the property after a series of long-running planning appeals and court cases meant the eye-sore building was left unfinished for several years.

In 2007, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority fast-tracked planning permission to Mr Carroll on the condition that he give some land on the former Brooks Thomas site on North Wall Quay back to the authority so it could build a park.

As part of the deal, the authority said it would later push for changes to the planning scheme for the area, so further development could take place.

The permission was for an eight-storey office development and was outside the authority's own planning guidelines for density in the North Lotts area.

The authority's confidential agreement with Mr Carroll later caused the High Court to quash planning permission, when rival developer Sean Dunne took a case that led to a ruling that the secret agreement between the planning authority and Mr Carroll gave rise to a 'reasonable apprehension of bias'.

The fast-track permission was invalidated by the High Court and construction stopped on the site. In recent years, the cranes that surrounded the structure have been removed. However, after a series of further applications, An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission.

Sunday Independent

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