Number 23 Ballsbridge Gardens offers potential buyers US-style apartment living in the heart of Dublin
AMERICANS and Europeans who come to live in Ireland are regularly gobsmacked when they go hunting for an "apartment," – such are the peculiarities of this country's many unorthodox interpretations of that concept.
They don't understand why glass double doors open outside to no balcony, or why the items described as "balconies" are often nothing more than rails run around the outside of said double door windows.
They don't know why we have no storage, why the fit-out is so particularly bad and they don't understand why nearly all the units are either tiny one or two bedroom pokies.
They don't understand why the maintenance bills are extortionate and only seem to pay for not much more than the builder's idiot brother to sleep in a ground-floor cubby hole.
They don't understand why half of the "apartment" block populace doesn't pay the management fees to run the building and why the guy who built the building in the first place (and owns the most units) turns out to be the biggest non payer of all.
They don't understand why we have huge fireplaces with no fires or chimney inside. Why we have nowhere to dry clothes. They don't understand why Irish apartments have tiny kitchens and bathrooms with no window and no proper ventilation.
And the bigger earning executives don't understand why so many buildings described as "penthouses" too often happen to be a non-descript two bed atop a two storey building and floored with cheap cream coloured laminate.
Strictly the dictionary definition of "penthouse" is "a flat on the top floor of a building" but in the USA especially, it means much more – three bedrooms plus, expansive wraparound balconies and patios big enough for a swimming pool, it means exclusive non-sharing lift access.
It means island units in the kitchens and eating spaces with enough room to seat 12 for dining.
The Americans will tell you it's so rare to find a luxury Irish penthouse that seems to at least tick some of the boxes they are used to.
Which is why the pair at the top of Ballsbridge Gardens in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 are so special by the standards of the capital.
Built in the middle 1990s when construction had improved beyond clunky block build designs and before the cheapiness and space pinching of the property boom had started in, this Crampton built scheme was well put together with decent living spaces inside.
Here an American penthouse-dweller could reasonably feel at home (albeit without the swimming pool).
Number 23 has recently been placed for sale for just under €1m – and it's already had offers in the €960,000 without being marketed.
Take a look at the pictures here and you'll see why.
For an apartment, it stretches to 1,800 sq ft – almost twice the size of an average city family home.
The entrance hall is a proper hall.
There's a sitting/dining room with balcony off with proper views in mind.
The "If Carlsberg did apartments" ad scene comes to mind with a decent-sized outdoor balcony overlooking Aviva Stadium (although sadly not located high enough to enable the owner to see the big games as portrayed in the famous ad scene).
The view also takes in the general leafy city skyline and the River Dodder located nearby which is rich in seatrout, the metallic blue green flash of kingfishers and more recently, the river saw the return of the otter.
Pretty much all of the other "proper penthouse" stuff is here – good solid wood floors in rich colours, brushed steel fittings, a winding staircase taking you to the attic (yes this penthouse has a penthouse!) which is currently used for storage space but could suit as a study.
There's a super big livingroom/dining room straight from the apartment in the film 'Big' (minus the toys) which is perfect for parties and entertaining.
This comes with a proper feature fireplace with a working gas fire; there are Gaggenau appliances alongside granite work tops and surrounds in the kitchen which is kitted in maple shaker-style units and large by Dublin standards.
The sink is double bowl, you have eye level integrated ovens and a five-ring combination gas/electric hob combo on the aforementioned island.
There are two double bedrooms with an ensuite off the master chamber and then there's the main bathroom with its array of custom-made built-in presses with integrated lighting and granite surfaces that incorporate an inset wash hand basin, concealed toilet cistern and there's an inset bath and separate shower.
Overall the property has the feel of a spacious and breezy house rather than what we Irish could call an apartment.
And finally, unlike the few really well-finished and spacious penthouse apartments that do exist – it's in a very prestigious location.
It sits in the heart of Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – the country's most sought after and expensive address and it's also within a spit of the Barrow Street and Basin area which is the hot house for Google and other tech and social media companies.
So it might yet be snapped up by an Americans convinced it's the real thing.
That's why Gunne (01- 6323000) want €975,000.
In 2007, they'd have easily got €3m.