Johnny Ronan group acquires docklands site for €180m

US investment group Colony Capital also involved in purchase of Project Waterfront

 

A joint venture company formed by the Irish property developer Johnny Ronan and US investment group Colony Capital has bought a 4.6-acre site in the heart of Dublin’s docklands for a price in excess of €180 million.

Colony Capital and Ronan Group Real Estate have completed the acquisition known as Project Waterfront, according to Savills and Cushman & Wakefield, who handled the sale on behalf of statutory receiver David Carson.

The site was held by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama). Colony Capital has had a close working relationship with Mr Ronan since it backed his exit from Nama after the economic crisis.

The sale presented a rare opportunity to acquire the last remaining waterfront development site in Dublin’s north docklands. Underbidders for the site are believed to have included Hibernia Reit, Kennedy Wilson and Marlet.

Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore and its Singapore partner Oxley, which are well advanced on the adjoining Dublin Landings development of a vast office, apartment and retail development, did not bid on the project.

Planning permission

Situated within the Strategic Development Zone and adjacent to the 3Arena, the site has planning permission for the development of four office buildings ranging in height from six to eight storeys.

It has a total net office area of approximately 300,216sq ft. In addition, planning also allows for a residential development comprising two residential buildings ranging in height from six to 11 storeys, accommodating 420 apartments.

Following the publication of the revised apartment guidelines earlier this year, there is potential to significantly enhance and add value through design and planning refinement to increase the density and mix of units to between 494 and 526 units.

According to Savills, the finished residential scheme will be well positioned to benefit from the huge weight of equity seeking private rented sector stock at aggressive yields in Dublin, while the office scheme provides an opportunity for a prestigious waterfront HQ.

Transformation

In terms of an office location, Dublin Docklands has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, with the ongoing development of Dublin Landings to the west of the site.

Other developments include the EXO and North Docks office buildings to the east in front of Point Square Shopping Centre and the Point Campus student accommodation building.

The heightened development activity has enhanced the popularity of this area, which is now considered a premium business address.

A recent analysis on the Dublin office market suggests that demand for office space has reached a post-recession high of 4.1 million sq ft, up from 3.5 million sq ft before the Brexit vote. Almost 90 per cent of demand is focused on the central business district.