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Estate full of €1.7m mansions remains a ghost town

"The hawks will snap these up" was the breathless editorial commentary on the property pages when a new "millionaires' row" of five-bedroom mansions came to the market in west county Dublin in late June, 2007.

They were right.

When the show house opened with a €1.7 million price tag it boasted extra high ceilings, underfloor heating and American-style chrome appliances including an integrated, restaurant-standard, coffee-maker.

Sale was agreed on one of the houses in jig time - despite the eye-watering price tag. And in short order, hefty deposits were laid on the table for three more of the high specification homes that enjoyed panoramic views of the Dublin mountains.

Hawkridge on Old Celbridge Road also overlooked the 17th and 18th green of Lucan Golf Club.

The evocative ping of well-struck drives by golfers on the tee box could be heard from the third-floor balcony.

Interest was sky-high for the enclave of 10 properties of 3,100 sq ft in a sylvan setting yet only 20 minutes from O'Connell Street.

But when Lehman Brothers went wallop, so did the home buyers' dreams.

And for the developers, Welcan Builders, headed up by the respected builder James Kielty, it was a nightmare.

Seven years later Hawkridge can lay claim to be the most expensive and prestigious ghost estate in the country.

During that time there was some vandalism and illegal dumping outside the gated entrance - despite the best efforts of the principals.

It meant that 24-hour CCTV security and on-the-ground security personnel had to be employed at considerable expense.

In the intervening period Welcan Builders entered into lengthy negotiations with its project bankers Irish Nationwide Building Society. But of course the ground rules were constantly changing.

Irish Nationwide's loans were transferred or lumped in with Anglo Irish Bank's loans and came under the control the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IRBC).

Thence, the loans on Hawkridge came under the control of the State's bad bank, National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). All the while Hawkridge, with its lofty ceilings, wood panelling, underfloor heating, sandstone fireplaces and colour video intercom, remained vacant.

Seven years after the show house opened, a notice appeared dated July 1 in the Irish State Gazette, Iris Oifigiuil announcing the appointment of a receiver to Welcan Builders Limited.

It will now be up to Declan Taite and Patrick Brennan of Receivers, RSM Farrell Grant Sparks to dispose of Hawkridge on behalf of Nama.

Mr Taite declined to comment when contacted by the Sunday Independent last week.

The builder of Hawkridge Jim Kielty also declined to comment but said he was co-operating with the Receivers.

Sunday Independent

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