U+I sees potential for ‘phenomenal’ quarter at Guinness brewery

UK property group confirms it is in running to develop €1bn new urban quarter in Dublin

Oliver Loomes  and Colin O’Brien of Diageo imagine a new urban quarter at the St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Oliver Loomes and Colin O’Brien of Diageo imagine a new urban quarter at the St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The head of UK-listed property development group U+I has confirmed that it is being considered by global drinks giant Diageo to develop a new urban quarter at its historic Guinness brewery in central Dublin.

Speaking to The Irish Times following the publication of record full-year results , U+I chief executive Matthew Weiner said the €1 billion project has the potential to create a “phenomenal new quarter” in Dublin.

“We are really focused on winning the Guinness project,” he said. “For us, it’s a really interesting project. This is absolutely what we do and there are some great heritage sites involved too.”

Diageo last year said it would redevelop 12 acres at its St James’s Gate brewery for housing, offices, shops and businesses. Six groups are under consideration for the project, with this soon to be reduced to a shortlist of three. A decision from Diageo is expected by the end of this year.

U+I’s results showed that it had £30 million (€34 million) in development assets in its portfolio for the year ended February 28th, 2018. Mr Weiner said three office developments in Dublin are well-advanced.

Southside sites

Donnybrook House is due to be completed in June while Ballymoss House in Sandyford is set for completion in early 2019. These have combined space of about 100,000sq ft and will be let once built.

The company is also planning to develop about 150,000sq ft of space at Carrisbrook House in Ballsbridge, where it hopes to be on site later this year.

Mr Weiner believes the Dublin office market is “in balance” in spite of the substantially increased supply in recent years and rents hitting pre-crash levels. “Ireland is still the fastest-growing economy in the EU,” he said, adding that U+I had received “some” inquiries from companies interested in relocating activities from the UK post-Brexit.

“We are looking to deploy more capital in Dublin and we see ourselves in Dublin for the next 10 years.”

At group level, U+I posted £68.3 million of development and trading gains, which was at the top end of its guidance to the markets for 2018.

It recorded a pretax profit of £48.2 million, up from just £400,000 a year earlier, and announced a supplemental dividend of 12 pence a share, to bring its total payout for the year to shareholders to 17.9 pence.