Dublin-listed property investment trust Hibernia Reit has received approval from Dublin City Council for an enlarged office scheme at the current Dublin regional Garda headquarters on Harcourt Street.
Designed by leading Irish architects Henry J Lyons, the scheme will deliver 343,000 sq ft of office accommodation on the 1.9 acre city centre site, an increase of 28,000 sq ft, or 9 per cent, over the previously approved plans for a 315,000 sq ft scheme.
As before, it incorporates the adjoining buildings at 39 and 40 Harcourt Street, the former being a Georgian townhouse built in about 1800, which will be “carefully restored” as part of the project. The development is expected to be completed in 2025.
Hibernia Reit, led by chief executive Kevin Nowlan, said Harcourt Square has been specifically designed to meet the evolving needs of office users, with "best-in-class efficiency and sustainability credentials" across two interconnecting buildings.
Each has a dedicated reception for maximum occupier flexibility, while it will also have a townhall large enough for conferences and functions of more than 600 people, as well as food and beverage and fitness facilities.
Goodbody analyst Cian O’Sullivan said the provision of such amenities “is of increasing importance to occupiers who view an office as being more than a unit to house a collection of desks, but a space to come together, encourage collaboration and foster increased productivity”.
The property group is expected to commence construction in January 2023, after about 500 Garda staff based on the premises move to the new €80 million Garda command and control centre on Military Road near Heuston Station.
Mr O’Sullivan said the scheme “represents one of the most exciting redevelopment opportunities in Dublin given its unique scale and prime positioning in the traditional central business district”.
He added that occupiers seeking large requirements over the next few years will be “limited by choice, further improving the likely demand dynamics for the completed space”.
Hibernia Reit director of development Mark Pollard said the site was a prime location for office space.
“We are delighted to have received approval from Dublin City Council for our revised office scheme which now totals 343,000 sq ft, an increase of 28,000 sq ft in usable area,” he said.
“The new Harcourt Square will be one of Dublin’s largest and most exciting developments, located close to the city’s historic core and on the Luas Green Line.
“The development will contribute two elegant buildings to the streetscape which, like our Windmill Quarter campus, will combine historic Dublin within a modern and innovative structure.
“Occupiers will benefit from best-in-class office accommodation with large, efficient floor-plates, excellent natural light, extensive external terracing and impressive reception areas.”
Hibernia Reit acquired the Harcourt Square complex in 2015 for €70 million from US investment firm Starwood Capital and subsequently sought to secure vacant possession of the four blocks as leases expired on them during 2016.
This triggered a legal dispute with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which manages the State’s property portfolio and requirements.
A settlement was reached in December 2016, resulting in the OPW securing a six-year lease extension on the premises, which also houses the national Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Special Detective Unit, and Emergency Response Unit.
The planned Harcourt Square development has been designed to give Hibernia Reit the flexibility of renting the entire space, stacked eight storeys over a basement, to one large tenant or to multiple users.