Irish Life is to redevelop the former Bord Fáilte headquarters at the junction of Lower Baggot Street and Wilton Terrace in Dublin 2 after regaining control of the rundown building which has been vacant for the past eight years.
Irish Life has paid close to €4 million for the leasehold interest of the building, which it built over half a century ago and let to the former Bord Fáilte under a 99-year lease from 1961.
The national tourist board continued to pay a fixed rent of €9,140 per annum for the empty building since moving to new headquarters in Amiens Street.
By coupling the leasehold with the freehold, Irish Life will benefit from an immediate uplift in the value of the property and, more importantly, will allow it to at least double the size of the present building to 4,180 sq m (45,000 sq ft).
The old building stands on 0.34 of an acre and includes 15 car-parking spaces, which will be relocated to a newly planned basement area.
Although Irish Life has not embarked on any new construction projects for more than two decades, it is likely to move quickly to get planning approval for the redevelopment of the site, overlooking the Grand Canal at Baggot Street bridge.
This is because of the immense shortage of high-quality office space in the south inner city and the prospects of rents rising to over €538 per sq m (€50 per sq ft).
The decision by Irish Life to revert to a development role may well have been triggered by the purchase of the company by Canada’s Great-West Lifeco. Should the Baggot Street project prove as successful as anticipated, Irish Life’s role in the property industry could be greatly enlarged.