Monday 23 September 2019

A dream downsizer: Georgian penthouse in Dublin 2

Mount Street penthouse with generous proportions, writes Gabrielle Monaghan

Showcased: the dining room
Showcased: the dining room
The master bedroom
The living room has an ornate stone fireplace
The front door of 18-21 Mount Street Lower
The second bedroom

Gabrielle Monaghan

In the 18th century Dublin's north city was considered Ireland's most exclusive address, with the who's who clamouring to live around Gardiner Street, Parnell Square and North Great George's Street.

But then James FitzGerald, the 1st Duke of Leinster, did the strangest thing. He announced plans to build the grandest townhouse the city had ever seen and shocked all and sundry by starting construction work at a site on Dublin's shabby southside.

When completed, Kildare House (later Leinster House) was the city's best house bar none. And such was the social standing of the Duke, that its completion in 1748 prompted the moneyed classes and the aristocrats to start selling up their northside townhouses (they would soon become slums) and migrate across the Liffey to build or buy a new property.

Residential squares were soon developed to cater for those who followed in the duke's footsteps, including Merrion Square, which faced the front garden of FitzGerald's vast residence.

The living room has an ornate stone fireplace
The living room has an ornate stone fireplace

Developer Ciarán Larkin's Kinvara Properties revisited the trend for Georgian city housing in 2004 when it set about turning four run-down Georgian terraces on Mount Street Lower, which links Merrion Square with the Grand Canal, into 27 apartments. Mount Street was among those constructed during the Leinster House-inspired townhouse building spree.

The vision for 18-21 Mount Street Lower was to retain Georgian features such as sash windows and high ceilings while adding contemporary flourishes.

But by the time the project was finished in 2008, the property market was already imploding. Some of the development's apartments, which had diminished in value, went onto the corporate letting market and became popular boltholes amongst chief executives and diplomats.

In 2013, one unit at 18-21 Mount Street Lower sold for €330,000, according to the Residential Property Price Register. The same year, an investor bought No 9, a two-bed penthouse, as a buy-to-let investment. Most recently it was letting out at €3,200 a month.

The investor has now put the top-floor property on the market for just under €1m (€995,000), having given it a complete revamp. The vendor even hired an interior design firm to stage it properly and showcase its size; at 1,453 sq ft, the two-bedroom apartment is larger than many a four-bedroom semi in the suburbs.

The agents believe that the apartment's location - a five-minute walk from Leinster House (now Government Buildings), the Merrion Hotel and Grand Canal Dock - should prove a draw to downsizers selling D2 and D4 high-end properties. Alternatively there's an appeal to business executives who want a city pad, according to Karen Germaine at Henry Wiltshire.

The front door of 18-21 Mount Street Lower
The front door of 18-21 Mount Street Lower

"We may even see an embassy buy it for one of the staff," says Germaine, who points out that diplomats already own homes here.

Granite steps flanked by iron railings sweep up to a grand doorcase in the centre of the brick-fronted development. A fanlight sits above the black double front door, which has sash windows either side. The main door opens onto a communal entrance hallway with a marble-tiled floor, pillars, decorative coving to the ceiling, and a crystal chandelier. At the back of the hallway, a glass-covered walkway leads through a courtyard to a three-storey contemporary-style apartment block to the rear of the site.

An annual service charge of €5,400 helps pay for a gardener to tend to the landscaped courtyard and its shrubbery. Beside the communal barbecue area is a fresh herb garden, blooming with lavender, mint, coriander and rosemary.

No 9 is one of only two apartments on the fourth floor with direct access from the lift. Its entrance hallway has wooden floors, spotlights, and a skylight that adds extra natural light. To the right of the hall is the main bathroom and a master en suite, while the second double bedroom sits to the left.

Straight ahead are the wood-floored dining room and living room, with a partial wall defining them as two separate spaces. The focal point of the living room is an ornate stone fireplace with a slate hearth, and there are period details such as two sash windows. Meanwhile, a set of French doors with windows either side open from the dining room to the balcony; this south-facing space has a glass balustrade, slate floor tiles, and granite windowsills.

Hyde Interiors staged the bedrooms with blush-pink and blue velvet headboards, the living room with mid-century style chairs, sofas and occasional tables, and the dining room with shelving, a study area, and teal dining chairs. Vintage-style light fixtures and lamps were added throughout. Buyers have the option to purchase the furniture and fittings for an extra amount, Germaine says.

The master bedroom has two built-in wardrobes and a new carpet, while the en suite is fully tiled and comes with a double shower with glass doors, as well as a wall-mounted, mirrored vanity unit. The main bathroom also has tiles to the walls and floors, as well as a bath, a shower, heated towel rails and a further vanity unit.

Off the dining room is a kitchen and a separate utility room. During the overhaul, the kitchen was fitted with new units in a period grey colour, a polished stone countertop, and porcelain tiling to the floors. The integrated Miele appliances include a dishwasher, a wine cooler, and a Nespresso coffee machine. Ceiling spotlights combine with the original sash window to brighten the room.

While 18-21 Mount Street Lower is within walking distance of the entire city centre business district, the future resident will also be close to transport links such as the DART at Pearse Street and the Luas at St Stephen's Green. The Dublin Bike scheme also has a station at Merrion Square East. Apartment 9, 18-21 Mount Street Lower, Dublin 2, is selling for €995,000 through Henry Wiltshire (01) 406 3852.

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