Part of Allied Irish Banks D4 headquarters for €50m

Office redevelopment on 3.7-acre site sold for €200m in 2006

The office redevelopment site including four dated office buildings at the front of AIB’s Bankcentre in Ballsbridge

The office redevelopment site including four dated office buildings at the front of AIB’s Bankcentre in Ballsbridge

 

A 3.7-acre office redevelopment site including four dated office buildings at the front of AIB’s Bankcentre in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, are expected to make in excess of €50 million when they go on the market today. The superbly located complex opposite the RDS was bought for €200 million in 2006 by property developer Seán Dunne, who recently lost his Supreme Court bid to set aside his Irish bankruptcy.

The marketing campaign for the AIB site will coincide with another in Ballsbridge also linked to Mr Dunne and involving the sale of a 6.8-acre site occupied by the former Berkeley Court and Jurys hotels. It has a 10-year planning permission for a 150-bedroom hotel and 568 large apartments. This site was bought during the boom for €380 million and, according to Ulster Bank sources, is now expected to fetch well above the €120m/€150 million guide.

Joint agents Knight Frank and a US company, Eastdil Secured, are to handle the sale of the former AIB site for William O’Riordan of PwC, who was appointed receiver by Ulster Bank and Nama.

The sale comes at a time of considerable unease about the shortage of high volume, modern office space in the city and the effects that might have on incoming US direct investments. The Ballsbridge site will be seen as easily the best available in the city and one that could accommodate up to 28,000sq m (301,386sq ft) of offices in a campus-style arrangement. That will involve the demolition of the four existing blocks which have an overall floor area of about 10,000sq m (107,638sq ft).

These three- and four-storey buildings from the mid-1970s have been vacant since last Christmas, when AIB availed of a break option in its leases.

The new owners will likely relet this space on a short-term basis while awaiting planning approval for a comprehensive scheme that could cost an additional €50 million-€55 million to develop.

The selling agents said that apart from a complete redevelopment of the site, other options open to purchasers would be to refurbish and extend the existing office buildings.

“Unlike most of the other city sites which have come on the market in recent times, the AIB property offers a tremendous scale of development to help meet the current demands,” says Evan Lonergan of Knight Frank.

The development opportunities are underlined by the fact that the current site coverage is no more than 20 per cent of the overall plot.

Mr Dunne secured planning approval from Dublin City Council in 2010 for a development of almost 400,000sq ft of offices but this was later overturned by An Bord Pleanála, which was concerned about the effects the seven-storey scheme would have on the RDS headquarters on the opposite side of Merrion Road.

When Mr Dunne first bought in to the AIB banking campus, four other bank buildings on site were also acquired by Hibernian Life & Pensions for about €180 million.

In 2012, Hibernian, which by then had been taken over by Aviva, sold on the four blocks for about €70 million, down more than 60 per cent and consistent with the fall in commercial property values over that period.