Goodbye Embassy Row - two for sale on Ailesbury
RESIDENTS’ association meetings on Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4 must be interesting these days.Dubbed Embassy Row because of the proliferation of consular offices and ambassadors’ residences on its mile-long stretch, it has seen a fair amount of upheaval in recent years.Following a string of departures of high-profile residents and property owners such as Bernard McNamara, Noel Smyth and Derek Quinlan in recent years, the road has seen the arrival of a new mix of Dublin professionals and returning emigrants. Fewer embassies are chasing property on Ailesbury and nearby Shrewsbury Road nowadays as countries’ budgets tighten and they opt for lower-maintenance offices near town.
With the news that two more houses – a former ambassador’s residence and a family home – have come to the market through Lisney, long-term residents must be waiting with bated breath to see what kind of buyers – and money – they might attract.
Close to the Merrion Road end of Ailesbury, number 9 is a two-storey-over-basement semi-detached Victorian redbrick a few doors away from the Polish Embassy, being sold by receiver KPMG.
Until a month ago it was let to the Argentinian ambassador as his residence, but unlike the one in the Ferrero Rocher ad, this ambassador was living more in faded splendour than the lap of luxury. Lisney is asking €2.95 million for the vast, 458sq m (4,930sq ft) house which was owned by businessman and investor Liam Smyth, who had significant property interests in Dublin.
In September, Selfridges on Oxford Street in London bought a building he owned next door from the receivers in an £80 million deal (more than €100 million).
Close to the other end of Ailesbury, Lisney is selling number 70, a dapper-looking 1950s house with five bedrooms that has been in the same family for some years, and is asking €1.875 million.
However, number 9 is more the kind of home that people associate with Ailesbury Road; large and stately-looking. That said, anyone looking to return it to its former glory won’t get much change out of €500,000. The ground floor appears to need the least work and has two magnificent interconnecting reception rooms with high ceilings and exquisite plasterwork. It is in these rooms you can really see the potential of the house.
A third reception room with striped wallpaper and a bay window looks like it might have been a reading room or study.
There are four bedrooms on the upper floors including the main bedroom, a space so massive it makes the only stick of furniture, a double sleigh bed, look miniscule. The en suite represents a real attempt at luxury with a clawfoot bath, gold shower and his-and-hers sinks but a new owner might want to convert it back into a bedroom.
The lower floors need the most attention. Down steps from the main hall there’s a kitchen that’s part of an extension in need of some TLC. A modern conservatory with office blinds looks slightly incongruous.
The garden level below is a warren of rooms-upon-little-rooms that were once staff quarters and include kitchenettes, shower rooms and a mix of bedrooms and living quarters.
There’s a 55ft long garden to the rear backed by two mews houses that were built and sold years ago and are accessed via a lane at the side of number 9.
Number 70, a relatively modern house, is a completely different proposition, although not small at 218sq m (2,345sq ft).
You can tell it’s been well cared for the minute you set foot on the neat gravel drive. The staircase in the hall is perfect for a grand entrance but a new owner might move it back to its original, less central, location as it takes up a good portion of the hall.
There’s a drawing room with a bay window overlooking the front with a marble fireplace. Other rooms include a dining room with double doors to the lovely rear garden with manicured lawn.
There’s also a family room and a kitchen /breakfast room with dark wood units. Upstairs there are five double bedrooms, the main one en suite, and a bathroom around a U-shaped landing.
Golden rule: price it right and it will sell
ARGUABLY DUBLIN’S second most exclusive road, after nearby Shrewsbury Road, there is a strong appetite for property on Ailesbury, if it’s at the right price.
Among the high-profile Nama transactions in recent times was the sale of Bernard McNamara’s seven bedroom Edwardian-style family home in November by Sherry FitzGerald. J P McManus is reported to have bought 22 Ailesbury Road for about €10 million.
Nama was selling two graffiti-daubed mews houses, which need extensive refurbishment, also owned by McNamara, at 14A and 16A Ailesbury Road asking €4.25 million. They are believed to have been recently sold through Sherry FitzGerald.
Financier Derek Quinlan’s family home was on Shrewsbury Road but he also owned 43 Ailesbury Road, a Victorian, three-storey semi which was sold by joint agents Knight Frank and Lisney for around €2.7 million.
Number 14 Ailesbury Road, a six-bed semi owned by solicitor and developer Noel Smyth, sold by Nama through Sherry FitzGerald, made close to €4 million.
In their July auction, Allsop Space sold 35 Ailesbury Road, a two-storey over basement redbrick, for €2.325 million - substantially over the €1.45 million reserve price.