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Monday 19 March 2018

Site once worth up to €30m was developer's dream in boomtime

Donal Buckley

IT could only be described as a bargain.

At the peak of the market the 10.5 acre site of the St Francis Brewery in Kilkenny city centre would have been worth between €20m and €30m.

If it had the tax incentives that were available for Kilkenny's McDonagh Junction complex it might have been worth even more.

But Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Borough Council appear to have gotten a great bargain by agreeing a price of €2.1m this week for the site.

Just before the market peaked, a similar site in Kilkenny, the Cattle Mart site on the other side of the River Nore, sold for around €25m or €1.9m per acre without tax incentives.

Developer Melcorpo's ambitious plans for the mart site were aborted and its receiver Aidan Murphy is expected to bring it to the market in the near future with an asking price of around €9m.

On that basis the value of the brewery site might have been €20m at the peak and could now be worth €7m.

Admittedly the mart site, which is practically cleared, would not be as expensive to develop as the brewery site which it is estimated may take up to €2m to clear.

As the brewery site also needs to be rezoned from its current industrial zoning it is not as ready to go as the mart site. Nevertheless the brewery site has the advantage of frontage on to Kilkenny's city centre in addition to its river frontage.

At the height of the boom, such features would have had developers salivating with ambitious plans for high-end fashion stores and apartments.

Local estate agent Peter McCreery said that despite the downturn, the city stands to benefit enormously from the fact that the two sites will now be available at the same time.

"Both sites will... also help the city to recover from the recession. Already the city's hotels are booked out most weekends and a number of multinational companies in the city are helping jobs," he said.

Irish Independent

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