Developer who sold Dublin site for €70m buys it back for €22m-plus

Joe O’Reilly firm purchases Rathborne plot that could accommodate 700 apartments

Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land has purchased Rathborne, a 4.97-hectare (12.29 acre) site in Ashtown, Dublin 15, for about €22 million, some 13 years after his own Castlethorn company sold it to Capel Developments for more than €70 million. Spellet Developments, a company linked to Castlethorn, is understood to have completed the purchase of the site earlier this month with funding from the Cardinal Capital Group.

Savills handled the sale on behalf of a receiver appointed by State agency Nama, who obtained planning permission for 296 houses and apartments on the site prior to marketing it for sale. That permission was sought in 2015, when the housing mix preferred by developers was very much in favour of two- to three-storey houses, which were deemed to be more financially viable than apartments.

Four years on, due to favourable changes in market conditions and planning regulations it is highly likely that Chartered Land will seek planning permission for a new scheme incorporating a far higher proportion of apartments. A feasibility assessment commissioned by the vendor suggests that the site could accommodate more than 700 apartments.

Should permission be sought for such a development, it would finally realise Capel Developments' ambitious plan for the site, which was to include hundreds of apartments in blocks ranging in heights of up to 11 storeys. Those plans were quashed by the onset of the property market's downturn, and the site has lain idle for the last decade. Dublin City Council included it in its vacant site register in 2017, valuing it at just €5 million.


The vast majority of Capel Developments' assets, including a hotel, apartment blocks and development sites, have been sold on foot of its €100 million-plus debts. In recent months, 54 apartments developed by the company at Hazelbrook Square, Churchtown, were sold to Israeli investor Igal Ahouvi for €18.25 million. Agents TWM acted for Ahouvi, who has extensive Irish property interests, and Cushman & Wakefield acted for the Nama-appointed receiver.

Expanding empire

While Capel Developments' empire has been disbanded, Joe O'Reilly's is ever expanding, with new development sites and investment properties being added to his portfolio at a steady pace. He is delivering a large number of much-needed homes across the greater Dublin area, from starter homes in Adamstown to luxury apartments in Ballsbridge.

The developer already has significant experience in the Ashtown vicinity, having built a large number of homes and commercial units there before the property market’s crash. In more recent times, his Castlethorn company has returned to develop Rathborne Park. The first phase of the scheme proved so popular in September 2017 that it sold out in one day, in spite of being launched off the plans without a show house. That development is supported by Nama, as part of the State body’s efforts to support the delivery of housing, which have yielded more than 14,000 new homes since 2014.