Bernard McNamara firm plans €41m north Dublin development

Coulson-backed build-to-rent complex in Santry to include 112 apartments

McNamara development: how the proposed complex, on the site of the Swiss Cottage pub on Swords Road in Santry, in north Co Dublin, would look

McNamara development: how the proposed complex, on the site of the Swiss Cottage pub on Swords Road in Santry, in north Co Dublin, would look


A company with links to the boom-time developer Bernard McNamara has submitted an application under the fast-track planning process for a €41 million build-to-rent development with more than 100 apartments on Swords Road in Santry, in north Dublin.

Cinamol, an investment vehicle, acquired the site last year for about €4.5 million. A letter from Dublin City Council addressed to Cinamol acknowledged the company intended to submit the planning application on behalf of MB McNamara Construction, a company controlled by Mr McNamara and family members.

The 0.48 hectare (1.19 acre) site, currently occupied by the Swiss Cottage pub, is set to be replaced by a development comprising 112 apartments, communal facilities for residents, a cafe, a retail unit and a restaurant.

Although Dublin’s build-to-rent market is still at a relatively early stage, many developers are opting to seek planning permission for apartments that comply with the higher standards required for individual resale, in order to provide flexibility for themselves or future institutional purchasers.

The Santry development is partly funded by the packaging billionaire Paul Coulson, who is supporting several McNamara schemes through a Luxembourg-based company, Aldershot Holdings. Company documents dating from 2015 describe Mr Coulson as the sole shareholder of the company.

Mr McNamara is complying with build-to-rent design standards; as part of this, the development will have to remain in single institutional ownership for at least 15 years. LIV, one of the biggest operators in the UK’s private rental sector, will manage the completed development.

A document filed in July 2018 with the Companies Registration Office shows Mr McNamara’s company intended to enter into a contract to sell the development to Urbeo Residential, a mixed-tenure Irish housing fund that recently partnered with Starwood Capital and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to assemble a €1 billion build-to-rent portfolio. It is not clear if the fund, founded by Bill Nowlan and Frank Kenny, still intends to acquire the development should planning be granted, as the company did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2006 Mr Coulson pulled off one of the biggest coups of the Celtic Tiger era, driving the sale of the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend to a McNamara-led consortium for €412 million.

Mr McNamara was discharged from bankruptcy nearly five years ago and is once again busy delivering residential and commercial developments, including the management of developments on behalf of high-profile clients such as Denis O’Brien and Dr Michael Smurfit.