€3.5m for landmark Lafayette Building

New Luas Cross City line will have stop outside six-storey-over-basement building

The Lafayette Building on the junction of Westmoreland Street and D’Olier Street in Dublin 2 is to be offered for sale at €3.5 million. Commercial agents Bannon are launching a marketing campaign today to find a buyer for the landmark building which looks straight down O’Connell Street and dominates the city streetscape next to O’Connell Bridge.

The six-storey over basement block was redeveloped by the now insolvent Treasury Holdings in the late 1990s when the three top floors were converted into 14 apartments. Funding was provided by Bank of Scotland Ireland. John Ronan of Treasury is believed to own at least one of the units while the others were sold off to individual buyers.


15-year lease
The latest sale includes 1,797sq m (19,345sq ft) at basement, ground, first, second and part of the third floors which are currently producing rental income of €625,453 per annum. The largest component of that rent (€520,000) comes from the otherwise astute Manchester United who signed a 15-year lease without any break options on the basement, ground and first floors in 2000, only for the shop to close after struggling for a year or two.

Even as the football club gets ready to avail of a much anticipated break in the lease in August 2015, it will still have to pay a penalty of nine months’ rent. In the meantime, the club has sub-let its space to the Lafayette Bar and Café, a well-run business which includes a nightclub.

The second and third floors are let to the Blood Bank at a rent of €105,000 per annum.


Luas line
Bannon says that investors looking at the building should be aware of a unique asset management opportunity relating to the new Luas Cross-City line which will have a stop outside the front door of the building.

According to Rod Nowlan, "this will be a real game changer for the occupational prospects of the building and this side of Westmoreland Street in general. Due to the looped nature of the line, this particular stop is likely to be one of the busiest on the entire Luas network."

When the Manchester United break penalty is taken into account, income will effectively continue to flow from that part of the building until mid-2016, only months from the anticipated completion of the Luas line.

The Lafayette Building was developed in the 1890s for the Liverpool and Lancashire Insurance Company and was described as a “Portland stone baronial exercise with Gothic and Ruskinian leanings.” Architect JJ O’Callaghan also designed a range of Dublin pubs including Mooneys on Harry Street and the former Dolphin Hotel at Essex Street, which was later used as a children’s court.

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