Construction work on a landmark office complex at Galway city’s docks is to start in March after funding arrangements for the project have been finalised.
Edward Capital, run by Galway developer Gerry Barrett, has teamed up with US investment firm Quadrant Real Estate Advisors, which is backing the €100 million Bonham Quay project.
Quadrant has lent more than €500 million for Irish commercial property projects since entering the market in 2015, when it provided funds for the purchase of Clerys in Dublin.
The well-known department store was subsequently shuttered in contentious circumstances.
Since then, Quadrant has backed an office block on Hanover Quay and the 202-bed Starwood Aloft Hotel in the Liberties, and is also funding an office complex being developed by O'Callaghan Properties in Cork city's docklands.
Quadrant, which has almost €10 billion of assets under management, sees continued demand for Irish office space even if a Brexit-related boost from UK firms relocating to Ireland has so far disappointed in terms of scale.
Mr Barrett says Bonham Quay is aimed at meeting the current “dearth of office space in Galway city centre”. He believes the project “will offer significant opportunities for Galway and it’s surrounding areas post-Brexit with ease of access to both Dublin and Shannon airports”.
The Bonham Quay development, which got the green light from An Bord Pleanála last September, is on a two-acre waterfront site and will provide more than 34,400sq m (370,000sq ft) of Grade A office space. This will be in four blocks ranging in size from 4,790 to 11,560sq m (51,600 to 124,431sq ft) designed with maximum flexibility to allow for multiple occupations.
Combined, these four blocks will be able to accommodate about 3,500 office workers while the development phase is expected create about 400 construction jobs.
The development is within walking distance of Galway city’s shopping and entertainment areas and will provide views over Galway Bay from rooftop terraces.
Bonham Quay confirms Mr Barrett’s return to the construction industry after an absence of more than three years. He exited Nama when €778 million in loans held by his company, Edward Holdings, were sold off at a discount.
The company's portfolio included the G and Meyrick hotels in Galway, the D in Drogheda, and Ashford Castle in Co Mayo. Mr Barrett continues to operate Scotch Hall Shopping Centre in Drogheda.
The Bonham Quay site was acquired by Mr Barrett in 2005 for €9 million when it was used as an oil storage depot by Topaz.
Mr Barrett was recently awarded the contract by CIÉ to develop an adjoining site of 8.2 acres beside Ceannt Railway Station in Galway city centre. The project, which will extend to some 139,354sq m (1.5m sq ft), is expected to include about 400 apartments, a 200-bed hotel and be focused around a high-profile retail centre and new transport hub.
Two rounds of public consultation on this latter project have just been completed and a very large planning application is expected to be submitted by early summer this year.
Combined, these two development sites should allow Galway city planners to rebalance development towards the city centre. Like many other urban areas, Galway has suffered from a donut effect of new retail developments moving out to the city fringes, leading to traffic congestion and long delays.