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College sells for e22m in biggest ever price fall

THE former UCD Vet College site has been bought for €22m – 87pc less than it cost eight years ago.

It's the biggest price drop so far for a site in Dublin city since the property market collapse.

The more than two acre block has been bought by the Comer Group, the property investment business owned by Galway born brothers Luke and Brian Comer.

Eight years ago the same property was bought by Ray Grehan's development company for €171.5m.

The site has dual planning permission for 15,600sqm of retail and restaurant space, 82 apartments and penthouses and a leisure centre of 2,340 sqm.

It is believed, however, that the new owners are more likely to look for a revised planning permission to build mostly offices with a much smaller retail and apartment element.

The site, which is in a prime spot with fronts on both Pembroke Road and Shelbourne Road, is seen as an excellent location for substantial office development.

Rents are likely to be between €35 and €50 a square foot or €376 to €538 a square meter.

The sale attracted a large number of bidders including some of Dublin's top office developers and John Moran of Jones Lang LaSalle had been quoting a guide price of €15m.

When Mr Grehan bought the site in 2005 for the equivalent of €84m an acre, he beat off bids from several other developers including Sean Dunne, Bernard McNamara, Gerry O'Reilly and David Courtney.

The Banks and NAMA have since had to step in.

The Comer brothers, who made their fortune in the British and German property markets have recently been buying up a range of distressed Irish properties.

They paid €75m for the Gemini portfolio which included 640 flats in Dublin and Cork and the 48 bedroom Glashaus hotel in Tallaght.

They also paid more than €8m for the Palmerstown House estate and golf course .

The UCD Vet school site was sold on the instructions of the appointed receivers to the property by Danske Bank.