Work starts on first ‘spec’ offices since crash

Denis O’Brien behind landmark €25m building for St Stephen’s Green

The first major speculative office development in Dublin city centre for more than five years gets under way this week with the demolition of the former Canada House office block at the junction of St Stephen’s Green and Earlsfort Terrace in advance of the construction of a new landmark building.

The project is being funded by billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien who has owned Canada House for about 10 years. The six-storey over double basement building will have an overall floor area of 6,880sq m (74,000sq ft) and a basement car park with 42 spaces as well as a bicycle store.

€25 million project
O'Brien's own investment management company, Island Capital Services, will have overall responsibility for the €25 million project including the appointment of sub-contractors, suppliers and agents. Knight Frank and Jones Lang LaSalle are to handle the lettings.

The city centre project may well prompt other developers to embark on similar office schemes now that there is a scarcity of large volume space in the central business district.

The IDA has already complained about the shortage of modern office space in the city for foreign direct investment projects. Rents have shown signs of a recovery over the past year with a number of recent lettings completed at €376 per sq m (€35 per sq ft). The ongoing shortage of space is expected to trigger further increases in the new year.


Richard Strappe, investment director of Island Capital Services, said they had received considerable interest in the new building and had a list of 10 interested national and international companies. They were confident of a high rent for a "world class building in a superb city centre location".

O'Brien said yesterday he was "very pleased" with the outcome of the planning process following extensive consultations with the planners at Dublin City Council.

de Blacam & Meagher
Designed by architects de Blacam & Meagher, the building will be the first to be developed on St Stephen's Green since 2004 when a new block on the former Green cinema site was developed by the Doyle hotel family.

It is occupied by bank outsourcing business Certus which is to take over the IBRC assets not sold by year end.

O'Brien acquired Canada House when it was occupied by the Canadian Embassy and Bank of Scotland. He had earlier developed his headquarters at 1Grand Canal Quay at a time when the area was best known for its Cats and Dogs Home. It is now one of the most prestigious office and residential locations in the city, with potential for another three million square feet of offices on the three-acre State Street Bank site, 1.5 acres at Bolands Mills and half an acre at the Kilsaran plant. O'Brien has not yet decided on a name for the new building planned for St Stephen's Green

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan

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