Developer shifts Dublin focus away from private homes to build-to-rent

Midgard plans 399 build-to-rent apartments on sites previously earmarked for 242 homes

Build-to-rent: Midgard wants to build 174 homes on the Columban Missionary site on Hole in the Wall Road, D13

Build-to-rent: Midgard wants to build 174 homes on the Columban Missionary site on Hole in the Wall Road, D13


Midgard Construction, a subsidiary of the UK-based JRL Group, plans to build 399 build-to-rent apartments on two Dublin sites. Midgard previously obtained permission to develop apartments at the former Faulkners Industries factory in Chapelizod and at the former Columban Missionary site in Donaghmede, but it now wants to revise those plans to increase the number of units and provide new communal facilities for residents.

JRL Group, which was founded by the Irishman John Reddington, acquired both sites in recent years. The 3.21 acre Columban Missionary site, on Hole in the Wall Road, in Dublin 13, went on the market in 2015 for €4.5 million but is likely to have cost the developer less than €3.8 million, including acquisition costs, according to holding-company accounts. At the time it was estimated that the site would be developed with 60 to 70 houses. JRL now hopes to accommodate 225 units.

Highest density yet

The 2.57 acre Chapelizod site was guiding €3 million in 2016 when it was offered for sale by Shrewsbury Square, a company owned by the developers Sebastian Devlin and Johnny Burns, and JRL is believed to have paid close to the asking price. The site has been earmarked for redevelopment since 2007, when Shrewsbury Square had planned to develop 172 apartments on it. After the property crash those plans were revised down to just 33 houses in 2013.

In its latest proposal Midgard is seeking the highest density yet, with 174 units, and is seeking a sharp reduction in parking at both sites, from 451 spaces to 274. This would result in substantial construction-cost savings and is permissible where build-to-rent schemes are centrally located or close to public transport.

The plans highlight the speed at which the private-rental market has taken off in Ireland. Only last year Midgard submitted its plans to build regular apartment blocks, most likely for individual resale, on the sites. Now it has redesigned the schemes to cater to the build-to-rent market.

The 2018 Knight Frank Dublin PRS Report highlights that the private rental sector became the second-largest asset class in the city in the first half of the year, with about €343 million invested in the second quarter alone. The agency estimates that €3 billion to €5 billion of capital is chasing private-rental opportunities in Dublin, and Midgard’s change in strategy may well be a result of this.