Cantillon: Property firm Hammerson gets hands on O’Reilly assets
UK property group secures underlying assets from Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land
Dundrum Town Centre (above) is included in the assets as is a share in the Ilac and Pavilions shopping centres and a five-acre site on O’Connell Street. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh / The Irish Times
Some 9½ months after announcing the purchase of the Project Jewel loans from Nama in partnership with Allianz, UK property group Hammerson has finally secured control of the underlying assets from Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land.
The scale of the assets involved and the development opportunities should make the short wait worthwhile.
They include the Dundrum Town Centre, a neighbouring six-acre site in the south Dublin village, a half-share in each of the Ilac and Pavilions shopping centres (subject to agreement with other shareholders), a prime five-acre site bounded by O’Connell Street and Henry Street, along with 16 acres in Swords.
Some 56 rent reviews remain to be concluded at Dundrum. The ones agreed to date have yielded an average 11 per cent increase in rent, with the latest recording an 18 per cent uplift. Three catering deals are said to be under negotiation at 15-20 per cent above the existing rent level.
Hammerson also has growth plans for both the Ilac and the Pavilions centres, and there are opportunities for mixed-use developments in both Dundrum and Swords.
Dublin central is likely to prove more tricky as it incorporates a site on Moore Street connected with the last stand of the 1916 Rising leaders.
The Court of Appeal yesterday set a provisional date in December 2017 for an appeal to a surprise High Court ruling in March that nearly all of the buildings on the east side of Moore Street as well as the laneways leading into it collectively constitute a national monument.
This ruling would require Hammerson to redesign the proposed commercial redevelopment of the site and it could be another couple of years before this issue is resolved.
For Joe O’Reilly, it must have been a day of mixed emotions. On the one hand, he had just handed over a large part of his life’s work, albeit on commercially agreeable terms.
On the other hand, he has finally drawn a line under this long-running issue, while retaining an option to take a 50 per cent stake in the Dublin central site by June 1st next year. Chartered Land will also be the development manager on this project.
O’Reilly’s main focus is now on building a high-spec residential scheme on the former Berkeley Court site in Ballsbridge, along with other projects. After eight tough years, the developer has emerged into the light at the end of the tunnel.