The London-based Sw3 Capital has acquired the headquarters of the Department of Justice and Equality, one of the most notable period buildings on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green, for €16.5 million – €1.5 million more than the guide price.
It is the second time within a year that the prestigious offices at number 94 have been sold. Last November the building was bought by Pimco and Brehon Capital as part of the €152.5 million Ulysses Portfolio which contained mainly property investments held by the bankrupt developer Liam Carroll.
The Justice HQ was owned at that stage by a Galway-based couple, Helen and James E Cormican, and was lumped into Ulysses to broaden interest in the portfolio. Brehon's subsequent decision to sell on the building did not surprise anyone as its main focus is on running the Marker Hotel in the Dublin docklands, the Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow and Citywest Hotel in west Dublin.
Although the Department of Justice HQ is constantly used by state agencies for high profile meetings and receptions for overseas dignitaries, it is all the more surprising that the OPW did not attempt to buy it even when values were on the floor and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) could not wait to offload it.
Sean O’Brien of CBRE handled the most recent sale of the listed building which is rented at €1.02 million per annum. There is a modern extension to the rear and an overall floor area of 1,858sq m (20,013sq ft).
The front section of the building includes storage facilities at basement level and offices on the ground, first and second floors. There are additional offices at four levels to the side of the main building. A separate four-storey over basement period building, also included in the sale, is currently divided into three studio apartments accessed from Stokes Place.
The buildings are rented to the OPW under two co-terminus leases. The ground and first floor are let on a 10-year lease from June, 2008, at a rent of €612,000 per annum. The lease has another 3.75 years to run. The remaining accommodation, including the residential annexe and 20 basement car spaces, are let on an identical lease subject to a passing rent of €408,000.
Sw3 Capital Ireco Ltd was set up two years ago by Adam P Rooney, Edward BJ Truman and Thomas O'Mahony and has managed to buy a number of city centre property investments at discounted prices.
In July it paid €4.15 million for Twilfit House, an early 20th century building rented by two commercial tenants at the junction of Jervis Street and Upper Abbey Street. It is rented at €350,000 per annum. The National Leprechaun Museum occupies the ground floor and basement while Ben Dunne Gyms rents the two upper floors.
Sw3 also recently paid €2.8 million for a mixed-use block of properties including Harry’s Café at the junction of Dawson Street and St Stephen’s Green.
Other recent purchases have included the Tesco Express outlet at College Green for €3.7 million and a Georgian house on Merrion Square.