The family-owned group that controls the Mercedes franchise in Ireland has told Dublin City Council (DCC) it intends to bring forward plans to redevelop its 6-hectare (15-acre) headquarters site in Dublin, which could accommodate hundreds of new housing units and offices.
Motor Distributors Limited (MDL) Holdings has asked DCC to relax height restrictions proposed for the lands to allow it to accommodate a tower of up to 22 storeys as well as other buildings of up to 10 storeys elsewhere on the site, which occupies a strategic plot between the Naas Road and the Long Mile Road in west Dublin.
Developer Michael O’Flynn, the owner of a similar-sized plot across the road on the site of an old Nissan plant, last year received planning permission for more than 1,100 housing units as part of a €625 million mixed-use scheme. That site sold for more than €6 million an acre.
MDL, which is owned by the wealthy O’Flaherty family that also used to control Volkswagen here, indicated its intentions for its site in a submission on the DCC’s draft development plan for the city for 2022-2028, which until last week was open to submissions from the public.
"Our client intends to bring the MDL lands forward for development in the short term," wrote John Spain planning consultants, which has been in talks with DCC on behalf of the O'Flahertys for the last 18 months over the site.
Along with the Nissan site, the lands are identified as key to the redevelopment of the western edge of Dublin for housing.
The draft development plan suggests the MDL site be subject to a height restriction of 6-8 storeys. The consultants on MDL want this changed in the final plan to 8-10 storeys.
It also asks for dispensation for a single tower of up to 22 storeys on a corner of the site fronting on to the Naas Road. It cites other tall buildings in the immediate vicinity. MDL also wants a reference in the plan to the potential for another “locally high” building on another portion of the site.
John Spain consultants told DCC that after 18 months of talks, MDL believed there was a “high degree of mutual understanding” for the site, but this was not reflected in the extra restrictions proposed in the 2022-28 city draft development plan.
The site used to contain a Volkswagen assembly plant and is currently the location of MDL’s offices and car dealerships, as well as a small motor museum. Large tracts of it are undeveloped.
“The site is bigger than we require for our business and, given the current housing crisis and the fact that the site has been identified as a regeneration zone, we believe it makes sense to explore whether it can be developed in a way which would make a meaningful addition to available accommodation in the area,” MDL told The Irish Times over the weekend. It insisted that it did not have a timeline for the project.
MDL has annual sales of close to €260 million and employs more than 300 staff. The group has its roots in a company founded by legendary Irish businessman Stephen O’Flaherty, grandfather of the current generation that owns the business.
He built the group in the 1950s after securing the franchise for Ireland and the UK for Volkswagen, and eventually became one of the richest people in Ireland.