Crean buys €45 million office complex

Plans include the addition of two new floors to Blocks A and B and one to Block C, which will see the gross floor space increase from 7,474sq m to 10,172sq m

Balark Investments, which is a subsidiary of the Marlet Property Group, has emerged as the buyer of Blocks A, B and C of the Charlemont Exchange office complex at Dublin's Charlemont Place, adjacent to the Hilton Hotel.

Balark was formerly part of the New Generation Homes group founded by Patrick Crean and Greg Kavanagh, prior to the two parting ways last year. The blocks, which were sold by previous occupiers Rabobank/ACCLM, hit the market last year through Knight Frank seeking €45 million.

The offices were built in 1997, and were marketed with a clear focus on the potential for extension and refurbishment, with feasibility studies having been carried out suggesting that a significant extension would be possible. While it was thought that an owner-occupier seeking quick possession may purchase the offices, Balark ultimately won out the bidding process and will now extend and renovate the blocks.

Its plans include the addition of two new floors to Blocks A and B and one to Block C, which will see the gross floor space increase from 7,474sq m to 10,172sq m. In addition to the extension, new 6th floor roof terraces are to be created on the southern and western elevations, no doubt to exploit the attractive canal views and sunny orientations, along with various other exterior changes, such as new entrance doors and windows.

The buildings’ basement is to be reconfigured to accommodate 86 parking spaces and 102 bicycle spaces.

During the New Gen days, Crean and Kavanagh rose to notoriety thanks to their assembly of heavily discounted development sites across Dublin, however in spite of their vast swathes of sites, only a limited number of residential developments have come to fruition, with many sites dogged by long-running planning issues.

With Crean now heading up his Marlet Property Group, it is possible that his experience with the pitfalls of brownfield site development may be the driving force behind less risky refurbishment opportunities such as Charlemont Exchange.

As reported by the Block in recent weeks, Crean has been quietly trying to sell a number of development sites piecemeal, and it seems he may now be favouring investment acquisitions with better short-term cashflow prospects over ground-up development – only time will tell if this trend continues.