Why Dublin pubs have a good chance of being flattened

Pub properties are starting to look attractive to developers in a tight housing market

Publican Charlie Chawke claims he rebuffed an offer of €60m for the Goat during  the last boom.

Publican Charlie Chawke claims he rebuffed an offer of €60m for the Goat during the last boom.

 

With the clamour for Dublin city housing, a dearth of sites close to the city centre and property development back in vogue, is the Dublin pub market heading back to the future, with many pubs more valuable if they were flattened?

One of the most interesting phenomena of the last property boom was the number of Dublin pubs with large carparks that changed hands for obscene amounts of money at the top of the market.

The pubs, many of which were in desirable areas where people wanted to live, didn’t need their carparks, but the developers did. Property investors would buy pubs at vastly inflated prices and seek to redevelop them, carparks and all, into huge residential and commercial schemes.

Many pubs changed hands at the top of the market for eye-watering prices. Developer Seán McKeon bought Dollymount House in 2006 for €15 million. The Foxhunter in Lucan was sold to a developer in 2007 for €17 million.

But the Daddy of all those deals was Charlie Chawke’s €22 million purchase in 2005 of the Old Orchard Inn in Rathfarnham, on a massive site. Chawke is first and foremost a publican, but he bought the Orchard with development in mind.

Property values began to collapse in 2007, nixing most of these redevelopment plans. The pubs went back to being pubs.

Alternative use

A decade on, we are approaching the point once again when “alternative use value” is being mentioned in Dublin pub circles.

Chawke may well end up redeveloping the Orchard site, if he can find a bank to back him. A more interesting prospect, however, might be his Goat pub in Goatstown.

Accounts filed this week for Charjohn, which owns the Goat, show it is profitable and Chawke and his wife took fees of almost €250,000 last year.

Its fixed assets are valued in the accounts at €1.8 million, but the huge site is surely worth far more than that.

Chawke has claimed he rebuffed an offer of €60 million for the Goat during the last boom. He said he regretted not taking it, but then mused that he might have punted the lot on Anglo Irish Bank shares anyway.

Might he still get a chance to cash in his prize asset?