Marlet Property Group has paid well over the €14 million guide price for a 0.87 acre development site on Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1. The company, founded by Pat Crean, paid more than €22 million to close the deal for the site, which has lain vacant for decades.
M&G Investments, with whom Marlet signed an exclusive funding agreement in 2014, financed the purchase.
It is understood that the site was assembled by CIÉ between 1978 and 1993.
In advance of marketing it for sale last year, the vendors commissioned a development feasibility study by RKD Architects, assessing a number of potential uses such as office, hotel and student accommodation.
Marlet is already active in the office development space, having a number of projects currently on site. However, it has shown an interest in developing hotels through its acquisition last year of a site dubbed Grand Canal Harbour, located in close proximity to St James’s Hospital in Dublin 8, which has planning permission for a large development that includes an aparthotel.
The Abbey Street Upper site may well accommodate a significant number of traditional hotel rooms and aparthotel suites and industry sources believe Marlet will pursue a development of that nature.
Given the site’s location at the heart of the city centre it would lend itself well to a hotel development, especially thanks to its close proximity to major transport links including Connolly and Heuston train stations, Busáras and the Luas, with the Jervis station (Red line) situated at its doorstep and the O’Connell GPO station (Green line) nearby.
The site has been subject of wrangles dating back to 2005 when CIÉ sought to strike a deal where developers would deliver a bus interchange on the lands and pay about €12 million in cash in exchange for the right to develop at least four floors of accommodation above the bus interchange.
Brothers Des and Liam O’Dwyer, of Capital Bars fame, were successful in their bid, with their Deepdrill Developments vehicle.
However, the decision was contested by developer Liam Carroll’s Danninger development company, which was already developing adjacent sites. The high-profile developer lost his case and Deepdrill later secured planning for a 10-storey over basement hotel, incorporating the bus interchange.
The brothers’ plans never came to fruition and the site has lain idle since.