Around the block: Building tycoon’s magic touch hasn’t turned nuns’ heads

The newly-built residence for the Religious of Jesus and Mary and the 2.5acre site. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The newly-built residence for the Religious of Jesus and Mary and the 2.5acre site. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 00:00

In spite of his avowed belief in God and his regular church attendance, young housebuilding tycoon Greg Kavanagh seems unlikely to end up as the preferred bidder for land owned by a Dublin-based order of nuns, Religious of Jesus and Mary.

The 28-year-old Wicklow man who runs New Generation Homes was apparently a forerunner to buy a key 2.5-acre development site in the grounds of Jesus and Mary College at Goatstown Road, Dublin 14, but with the bidding running stronger than anticipated the nuns now look like they will be doing business with another housebuilder.

Estate agent David Gill Associates had been seeking in excess of €3 million for the site and with the shortage of family homes now glaringly obvious in most south Dublin suburbs, two bidders have nipped in with offers well in excess of €3.5 million. Kavanagh appears to be now out of the running for the site which has planning permission for 40 houses and apartments on Goatstown Road. Having pumped more than €100 million into residential land around Dublin in recent years, he has any number of housing schemes to occupy his time, however.

Kavanagh, who has maintained a low profile since his arrival on the property scene, was quoted in a recent interview saying he derives his success from a strong belief in God and his mother’s unflinching support. He was also reported as saying his acumen could be likened to the football skills of Ronaldo and Messi.

The sale of the nuns’ land comes after the collapse of an agreement between another three-man consortium headed by developer David Arnold and the religious order under which the group had the freedom to build and sell more than 100 apartments on the site. Before embarking on the development, the consortium had to provide a new residence for the 16 sisters in the order. This was done at a cost of several million euro but with the property market collapsing, the syndicate did not make an additional payment to the order as agreed.

However, before vacating the site the consortium built a new access road as well as getting planning permission for a smaller development which runs until 2017.