Wednesday 17 October 2018

Vincent Browne puts beloved house for sale as Village proves too costly for him

'I have managed to amass a huge debt though Village and I don't have a pension' the broadcaster said. Niamh Horan writes

IT was Ireland's gold coast, where the rich and famous came to lay their stake and set up home along the Irish Sea. But now Dalkey is fast losing some of the famous names that littered the scenic suburb at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

This week TV3 broadcaster Vincent Brown became the latest resident to post a 'for sale' sign outside his door. 'Atlanta', the six-bedroom red-brick coastal property where Browne and his wife raised their family, is on the market for €3.25m.

Browne and his wife Jean initially bought the property for IR£94,000 (€119,000). However, they have to sell the Victorian house to settle debts that accumulated through the broadcaster's involvement with Village magazine, which he started in 2004.

Only a year ago this week the TV3 presenter was confident about working through his financial troubles.

Sitting in the living room of his affluent family home overlooking the spectacular coastal view he said: "I lost a million and a half on the Village. There was a personal guarantee, yes, but the personal guarantee element is down to about €170,000 and I took out other loans and I'm paying them back."

"I have managed to amass a huge debt through Village and don't have a pension, so I have to pay off the debt and put something towards a pension."

According to the balance sheet of Village Communications, losses for the company now stand at €1,035,828 and the bank holds a personal guarantee from the directors for €450,000.

There was a time when the prices fetched by properties in the south Dublin 'gold coast' suburbs of Dalkey and Killiney hit the headlines with regularity but with the property crash, but Mr Browne may have to drop the asking price for his beloved home if he is to secure a deal.

Racing driver Eddie Irvine paid Harry Crosbie, the owner of the Point Depot, about €290,000 for a derelict cottage in Dalkey in the early 1990s. He subsequently spent more than €4.5m on renovations and extensions, before trying to sell the property for €6.5m in 2003.

Despite being within a short distance of Van Morrison's home, there was little interest in the property and Irvine eventually had to reduce the asking price to €5m before a buyer eventually emerged in 2004.

Another high-profile resident, Lisa Stansfield, put her residence 'Mount Henry', on Torca Road, on sale for €8m in June 2007. She eventually sold it for €6m.

One star, who may wish he had never settled in Dalkey, is film director Jim Sheridan. He and his wife Fran are suing for more than €4m over allegedly defective works to their luxury home that, it is claimed, have resulted in water seeping in over a number of years.

The Sheridans intended their home, 'Martha's Vineyard' on Coliemore Road, would be one of the finest and most spectacular coastal properties in Ireland. They claim they could have sold the property for some €7m in 2007 but two potential purchasers pulled out because of the problem with the sea water pool that was never resolved.

They are now servicing two mortgages for the Dalkey property and their other property in Ballsbridge, Dublin, until the matter is settled.

One celebrity to get out of Dalkey's gold coast before the downturn hit was Jim Kerr. In 1999 the Simple Minds rocker sold his Killiney house for £2.75m, a substantial residence he purchased seven years earlier for around £800,000.

This weekend, Gillian Draper, residential negotiator for Vincent Browne's home, said Dalkey "like everywhere has been affected by the downturn".

"But due to the unique area by the beautiful coastline, it's always going to hold its own. It's always appealed to the rich and famous and everyone else who can actually afford it."

Speaking of Mr Browne's house she said: "We have had lots of interest and Saturday was booked out with private viewings. It's one of only 80 homes in Ireland with direct access to the seashore so that is definitely a strong selling point."

Whether the journalist gets the asking price he is looking for is another matter.

Sunday Independent

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