GAA to get €105m from Hines for part of site it is buying for €95m

US group emerges as preferred bidder for 19-acre site with scope for 1,200 dwellings

The GAA is set to receive €105 million from selling on part of a site close to Croke Park that it is buying for €95 million.

US commercial property group Hines has emerged as the preferred bidder for the 19-acre prime residential development site in Drumcondra, according to sources.

The site forms part of a larger plot being sold by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin to the GAA and has scope to deliver up to 1,200 apartments and other residential accommodation

Sources said that Hines beat offers from developer Seán Mulryan’s Ballymore and Dublin-listed homebuilder Glenveagh Properties, who had also made a short list.


Spokesmen for Hines, Ballymore and Glenveagh, and a spokeswoman for the archdiocese declined to comment, while representatives of the GAA didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Irish Times first reported in June that the GAA had put the Drumcondra site on the market, after the association entered talks late last year to buy the former Holy Cross seminary and adjoining lands from the archdiocese. It emerged last month that the GAA will pay about €95 million to the archdiocese.

The GAA plans to develop sporting and recreational facilities as well as a hotel on land adjacent to the site being sold for development.

Hines, based in Houston, Texas, opened an Irish office led by Brian Moran in 2011 to target real estate and development sites being sold by banks and investors following the property crash. It went on to become one of the most high-profile dealmakers in the sector.

The company and a unit of HSBC bought a 73 per cent stake in the Liffey Valley shopping centre in west Dublin in 2014 for €250 million from insurer Aviva. Hines and its partners in the shopping mall, including long-standing shareholder the Grosvenor Group, sold the entire centre to German pensions group Bayerische Versorgungskammer in late 2015 for €630 million. Hines continues to asset manage the centre.

Hines joined forces with US-based King Street in 2014 to buy a 412-acre site in Cherrywood in south Dublin for €270 million which is currently being developed into a new urban centre.

Joint venture

The Texas company entered a joint venture with Dutch investor APG Asset Management in early 2018 to develop a €1 billion, 2.1 million square feet town centre at the heart of the development, including 1,269 build-to-rent apartments, retail and office space and leisure facilities.

An affiliate of US private-equity group Lone Star bought 118 acres of development land and parks on the site last month for more than €120 million. This land is expected to deliver 2,600 homes.

Meanwhile, Hines and Peterson Group of Hong Kong bought the former headquarters of the Central Bank on Dame Street and Irish Nationwide Building Society beside the Grand Canal in 2017.

The marketing brochure for the Drumcondra portfolio, produced by selling agent Hooke and MacDonald, highlighted that the private rented sector is “the most vibrant part of the Irish property investment market” and has “considerable potential for growth”.

Despite Dublin having restrictions on rent increases, “average residential rents in Dublin are currently rising by 7.8 per cent per annum”, the brochure said.

Any future plans for the property must have “significant elements of legacy and community gain” and will “need to display creative factors that lift it above most development projects in the city”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times