Johnson Mooney & O'Brien


Sheelin McSharry got one of the bargains of the decade when it paid £5.6 million at auction at the end of 1993 for the 5.5-acre former Johnson Mooney & O'Brien site in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. The purchase was completed only months before the property market began to prosper.

The former bakery had earlier been at the centre of controversy when it was bought as a headquarters site in May, 1990, for Telecom Eireann at a cost of £9.4 million. It had originally been sold by the bakery in November 1988, for £4.5 million.

Sheelin McSharry got planning for a higher density development on the site than most people had expected, largely because of an imaginative design by architects O'Mahony Pike. It built 300 apartments, the 153-bed Herbert Park Hotel and Embassy House, a 50,000 sq ft office block. The directors of Sheelin McSharry held on to a substantial number of apartments as a long term investment. The seven-storey over basement Embassy House is currently producing a rent roll of £1.5 million from tenants which include NTL, Dockrell Farrell and Enterprise Oil. Rents secured in 1998 were the highest of the year. The first tenants, Cablelink, now NTL, agreed a rent of £20 per sq ft but rents continued to rise to £27.50 - the highest at the time outside the International Financial Services Centre.

When the next review takes place, the rents may well set a record by hitting £50 a sq ft. As things stand, the site has been worth over £100 million to the developers.