A prime office redevelopment opportunity at the junction of Lower Baggot Street and Wilton Terrace in Dublin 2 will arise shortly when DTZ Sherry FitzGerald offers for sale by public tender a long leasehold interest in the former Fáilte Ireland headquarters.
David Bennett of the selling agents is guiding in excess of €5 million for the lease of the rundown building which was developed by Irish Life over half a century ago and let to the former Bord Fáilte under a 99-year lease from 1961.
The national tourist board continues to pay a fixed rent of €9,140 per annum even though it vacated the block eight years ago, moving to more suitable State offices on Amien Street.
Although Irish Life has been rapidly expanding its property investment portfolio in the city – and, more surprisingly, in Cork – it is thought unlikely that it would commit to redeveloping the site overlooking the Grand Canal at Baggot Street Bridge as it has not developed any new buildings for over 20 years.
However, the market value of the lease to the company in this case would be quite considerable as, with overall control of the site, it would have the option of selling it off for at least €9 million.
The existing office block extending to 1,973sq m (21,237sq ft) stands on a site of 0.34 of an acre, including 15 surface car parking spaces, and could possibly be doubled in size.
Equally, Irish Life could upgrade the existing building in the certain knowledge that it would attract top rents because of its prime location close to the Grand Canal Docks as well as Fitzwilliam Square and Merrion Square.
Irish Life, for decades the largest property developer in Ireland, bowed out of construction more than 20 years ago after assembling what is one of the city’s best office sites at George’s Quay, opposite the Custom House. The company secured planning permission for the present high-density office development and only completed about half the project before selling on the remainder of the site at a fraction of its original value.
Although it has not developed any buildings since then, it could very well revert to its original role now that the company has been taken over by Canada’s Great-West Lifeco. Future policy may well be decided in Winnipeg rather than Dublin.
In the meantime, Irish Life officials are likely to be throwing an eye over the mixed-use zoning for the Baggot Street site which allows for a range of uses. However, the primary objective under the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017 would be to provide for “the creation and protection of enterprise and facilitate opportunities for employment creation”.