€4.5 million for O’Connell Street block

Hoteliers show interest in rundown building

 

The half-empty Findlater House on O’Connell Street in Dublin 1 is to be offered for sale at a knockdown price on behalf of Nama.

Keith O’Neill of agents BNP Paribas Real Estate is quoting in excess of ¤4.5 million for the dated building which was bought by Garret Kelleher ’s Shelbourne Developments in 2005 for slightly over ¤30 million. Funding was provided by the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Kelleher is best known for his promotion of an ill-fated 150-storey residential spire in Chicago, planned as the highest of its kind in the world but was quickly abandoned when the property market took a dive.


Upgraded
The six-storey over basement Findlater House beside the Gresham Hotel dates from the 1970s and despite its central location has been difficult to let since Eircom moved out of it some years ago.

Less than half the floor space is currently occupied and two of the three tenants are due to move out next December and in August, 2014. The ground floor retail area extends to 1,109sq m (11,941sq ft), while the overhead offices have a floor area of 4,231 sq m (45,542 sq ft).

Much of the ground floor was upgraded some years ago with the help of award-winning architect Tom dePaor and is still occupied by a State-sponsored company Irish Aid. The OPW is currently paying a rent of ¤150,000 under a lease due to end next December.

The English Academy college rents office space on the second, third and fourth floors, while the only long-term lease – it runs to 2022 – is held by The Living Room bar fronting on to Cathal Brugha Street. The overall rent roll from the three lettings is ¤420,000.

O’Neill said his focus over the past four years had been to lease the vacant office space but this had proved “challenging given the age and general condition of the building.

Over the last 12 months hoteliers, hostel operators and companies providing student accommodation and education facilities had all expressed interest in acquiring the block. For that reason they had made a strategic decision to test the market by offering it for sale.