Hibernia Reit seeks talks with council on rezoning Dublin land

Property investor wants to build homes on land bought from IRFU last year for €27m

Kevin Nowlan, chief executive of Hibernia Reit. Photograph: Tom Honan

Kevin Nowlan, chief executive of Hibernia Reit. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Property investor Hibernia Reit hopes to begin talks with South Dublin County Council shortly on rezoning land for which it paid nearly €30 million last year.

The real-estate investment trust reported yesterday that the value of its properties rose 7.9 per cent to €1.4 billion in its last financial year, which ended on March 31st.

Hibernia bought 92 acres at Newlands Cross from the Irish Rugby Football Union last year for €27 million but the council rejected pleas to rezone it from agricultural use to allow residential building there.

Kevin Nowlan, Hibernia’s chief executive, pointed out yesterday that councils must review their strategic plans under the Government’s new regional development proposals.

“We hope to engage with South Dublin County Council on getting mixed-use zoning with a high element of residential,” he said.

Hibernia already owned an adjoining 51 acres when it bought the IRFU site, giving it a plot of 143 acres.

A Luas tram line runs through the site on Dublin’s western edge, tying directly with the city centre. It is also close to other public transport routes into the capital.

The trust wants to build homes, shops and some offices on the site. The company may act as a lead developer, putting in infrastructure and building part of it while selling plots to others to develop.

Hibernia focuses mainly on offices in Dublin city centre. Its properties include the 2WML in Dublin’s docklands.

Rental income

Net rental income rose in its last financial year 16.6 per cent to €53.3 million, while pretax profit, including revaluation surplus and disposal gains, rose 15.8 per cent to €124 million. Hibernia said it would pay a final dividend of 2 cent per share, bringing the total for the year to 3.5 cent, up 16.7 per cent on the prior year. Hibernia had net debt of €217.1 million as of March 31st, and a loan to value on its portfolio of 15.6 per cent.

During the year, Hibernia finished two buildings to complete the Windmill Quarter and agreed a large letting to HubSpot.

It has also received permission for new developments at Marine House and Harcourt Square and successfully refinanced its debt.

Mr Nowlan described the results as strong. “We have continued to recycle capital, selling assets worth more than €100 million and reinvesting €85 million in new acquisitions and our developments, where we expect better future returns. In April 2019 we announced our intention to return €35 million to shareholders, starting with a € 25 million share buyback,” he said.

Despite the threat of Brexit, Mr Nowlan said that “demand for office and residential accommodation in Dublin remains high and the Irish economy continues to show a good rate of growth and strong job creation”.

Looking ahead, Mr Nowlan said that Hibernia continues to be “well positioned”.