Prime Cork development sites could make €30m

Assets were part of Project Clear portfolio which was sold by Ulster Bank for €503m

 

One of the best residential sites to come on the Cork market in years is included in the forthcoming sale of a portfolio of prime sites which should make about €30 million.

Savills has been appointed as sales agent for 52 acres at Castletreasure in Douglas; 0.5 acres at Dennehy’s Cross; and 7.8 acres at the Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday’s Well.

These assets formed part of the Project Clear basket of property loans sold by Ulster Bank to London-listed Cairn Homes in December 2015. Project Clear was sold for €503 million and its loans, with a par value of €2 billion, were attached to 1,694 acres. The Cork assets now for sale once belonged to the Frinailla Group, a local developer controlled by the Conway family.

The top lot in the so-called “Treasure Collection” – bids for which must be submitted by June 8th – is the 52 acres at Castletreasure in Douglas.

It is zoned for a “medium A” residential development which allows for 20 to 50 residential units per hectare. This would suggest a sale price of more than €25 million given that any eventual development would most likely have between 450 and 550 units.

The site is situated just off the Old Carrigaline Road about 1.5km south of Douglas village.

It borders a protected greenbelt to the south and has more than 500 metres of road frontage. Access to the site will improve if the upgrade of the N28, which connects to the Old Carrigaline Road, goes ahead.

Top suburb

Douglas is one of Cork’s top suburbs with a good selection of boutiques, bars and restaurants, while the site is bookended by the Douglas Court and Douglas Village shopping centres whose retailers include Marks & Spencer, TK Maxx, Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Next.

Peter O’Meara of Savills said the Douglas property was the “largest and best residential development site to come to the market in the past 10 years and is probably Cork’s finest residential development site. It will be a great boost to the Cork market as it offers a significant development opportunity.”

Also included in the sale is a former car showroom at Dennehy’s Cross which should sell for about €1.5 million. This half-acre site has good road frontage on the Model Farm Road and, under the Cork City Development Plan 2015, it is zoned “local centre”. This allows for convenience shopping, comparison shopping, retail offices and residential.

The site has full planning permission for a commercial showroom and three townhouses on the ground floor with a mix of one-, two- and three-bed apartments overhead. Permission for this scheme has been extended until April 2018.

Dennehy’s Cross is at the junction of Model Farm Road and Magazine Road, both of which are established residential locations. UCC is less than 1.5km to the east and Cork University Hospital 800 metres to the south. The large Wilton Shopping Centre is easily accessible via the N71 which connects Wilton to the city centre.

The third site in the sale is the former Good Shepherd Convent just off Sunday’s Well Road. It is adjacent to Cork City Gaol, a popular tourist attraction, and is within walking distance of the Mardyke sports arena and Fitzgerald Park via Daly’s Bridge.

This landmark building is on an elevated, south-facing site with views over the city and the river Lee. The listed building sits on 7.8 acres and has dual access from Convent Road and Buxton Hill, both just off Sunday’s Well Road.

Development potential

Under the Cork City Development Plan 2015 most of the site is zoned Z04 to protect and provide for residential uses, local services, institutional uses and civic uses. Planning was granted, on appeal, in 2006 for the development of about 260 residential units to include a mix of townhouses and apartments.

James O’Donovan of Savills said the convent “offers great development potential and we believe it could be suited for the development of a nursing home, a retirement home, a private hospital and residential development amongst others”.

The three main buildings on the site – a home, convent and orphanage – have been derelict since a fire in 2003. A former Magdalene laundry on site was destroyed in the fire while the site was subsequently sold to developers in 2005. However, plans to develop the property fell foul of the bust and the asset was seized by Ulster Bank in 2010.

The convent site had been purchased by UCC in 1995 with the aim of accommodating its growing campus. But this was abandoned at the design stage when UCC acquired additional lands adjacent to the existing campus. The convent was then sold to developer PJ Hegarty who planned to turn it into student accommodation but again this never got off the ground and the site was sold. It was bought by the Frinailla Group in 2005 for €20 million, which then obtained planning permission for 260 residential units.

However, the Frinailla Group went into receivership in 2010 when Ulster Bank moved in on its assets which were mainly in Cork. KPMG was appointed as a receiver to the company.