Unicorn portfolio for €4.5m

Sale includes shop fronting Merrion Row and Georgian offices on Hume Street

The troubled Unicorn Restaurant at Merrion Row in Dublin 2 and three other city buildings held by Jeffrey Stokes and his wife Pia Bang Stokes are to be offered for sale on the instructions of receiver Tom Kavanagh of Deloitte.

Damien McCaffrey of agents Knight Frank is quoting in the region of €4.5 million for the portfolio, which is producing a rental income of €382,400. At that valuation, the investment would show a net yield of 8.5 per cent.

The High Court was told in July that Dunbar Assets Ireland, formerly Zurich Bank, is pursuing the couple and their two sons, Simon and Christian Stokes, for some €14.7 million arising from various loans and guarantees.

With the sale process now under way, the Italian restaurant, much favoured over the years by politicians and business people, is being operated by the couple's trading company Petrola under a four years and nine months lease from June 2013.


The short-term lease arrangement will allow a purchaser to take possession of the 120- seater restaurant about March 2018. Knight Frank is guiding €2.7million for the restaurant and four overhead apartments which are producing a combined annual income of €244,00, reflecting a yield of 9.05 per cent.

Whoever buys the restaurant is also likely to pitch for the adjoining premises fronting on to Merrion Row which is let to the UK-based Nationwide Building Society at a rent of €58,000 per annum.

The two-storey, 90sq m (968sq ft) building is expected to sell for about €640,000, which would give a new owner a return of 9 per cent on their investment.

The existing tenant and a new owner will have a mutual option to terminate the lease in February 2017.

That arrangement could well suit a new owner because of an existing planning permission which will allow for the integration and redevelopment of the two properties to provide a stepped five-storey building with roof terraces and an overall floor area of 1,416 sq m (15,241 sq ft).

The plan envisages that the upper floors will be cantilevered to overhang above the outside dining area on Merrion Court.

The portfolio also includes a Georgian office building at the rear of the Unicorn, fronting on to Hume Street. The four- storey over basement is let until May next to solicitors Holmes O’Malley Sexton at a rent of €40,000 per annum.

Knight Frank is quoting €570,000 for the well-maintained house, number 16, opposite the former Hume Street Cancer Hospital.

Separately, Knight Frank is quoting €590,000 for a shop at 5 Westmoreland Street let to Claddagh Records at a contracted rent of €40,000 per annum.

The lease includes a mutual break option in May 2016, but otherwise the tenant has another 19 years to run on the lease.

The shop has 110sq m (1,184sq ft) at street, mezzanine and basement level and benefits from a high footfall on the busy pedestrian route from Grafton Street to O'Connell Street.

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan is the former commercial-property editor of The Irish Times