Major Howth development gets the go-ahead

Waterfront site to contain mix of housing and commercial units

Development work on a high- profile apartment and housing scheme in Howth, Co Dublin, is finally to proceed this autumn following the granting of planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for the waterfront project.

The Nama-appointed receivers, Grant Thornton, are due to announce shortly the development strategy for the site, which will accommodate 200 residential units, six commercial buildings and 487 car parking spaces, most of them at basement level.

The options open to the receivers are either to (a) sell on the site to the highest bidder at a likely value of €25 million to €30 million; (b) build it out on a joint venture basis with a development company and share the profits, or (3) retain control of the site and appoint a project manager and contractor to handle the development.

Direct responsibility

Though Grant Thornton has not given any indication what course it will be taking on the Howth site, insiders are convinced that both Nama and the receivers will take direct responsibility for the development with the support of suitably qualified overseer and a construction company.

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Similar procedures have been followed on a number of sites in the Dublin area where there is a pent-up demand for new homes.

Receivers Deloitte are currently handling the development of 125 houses at Diswellstown, Castleknock, with the support of Andrews Construction.

Grant Thornton have also adopted a similar procedure to complete a large-scale apartment scheme on the Stillorgan Road at The Grange in Blackrock where Ray Grehan's Glenkerrin company had developed a mixed apartment and office project before going bankrupt in the UK in December, 2011, with a total deficiency of €523 million.

Coincidentally, Grehan also assembled the Howth land at the height of the boom in 2007 when he paid €62 million for two adjoining coastal sites of 6.58 acres which had previously been occupied by Techrete and Teeling Motors.

New development

The remainder of the 10.87- acre site was previously known as Baltray Park and the lands of a water pumping plant which Finglas County Council has allowed the developer to include in the new development.

The overall scheme will involve the demolition of a range of industrial and commercial buildings and the construction of five apartment blocks with a total of 145 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well 51 three- and four-bedroom houses. Four additional houses will be provided for Traveller accommodation.

The project will also include six commercial units including a 1,878sq m (20,214sq ft) community centre comprising a sports hall, changing and meeting rooms, gym, creche and coffee shop.

Building heights will range from one to six storeys plus mezzanine.