Clontarf sea view scheme in demand

New block of luxury apartments on the sea road in Clontarf, with prices from €295,000 to €600,000

 

In December 2013 international camera crews and foreign news teams descended on Dublin to report on the bailout exit and, looking for signs that the Irish economy was turning the corner, they spotted two cranes on the sea road in Clontarf. That’s how Brian McKeown of MKN developments found himself in his hard hat in front of the cameras, later hearing from friends as far away as Moscow and Melbourne that they’d seen him on the telly on CNN or read about him and his new apartment scheme in the newspaper.

MKN – a family building firm, headed up by dad Sean McKeown, with children Brian, John and Niamh working in the business – bought the site, the Dollymount House, a well-known northside superpub, in 2006. A prime site because of its Clontarf Road location with sea views, it was on the market for €12 million and, in a piece of unfortunate timing, the developers bought it for a price believed to be just north of the asking price. Since they sealed that deal it became a waiting game, with Brian saying that he did the sums several times over the years trying to figure out if the time was right to start building, and if there would be a market for apartments.

 

Sensing demand

In early 2013, sensing demand, MKN started the build on Seascape, a 59-apartment scheme, laid out over two blocks with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

It’s a very prominent site, and as soon as the hoarding went up there were calls from prospective buyers; by November 2014, following informal viewings of the front block (the one with uninterrupted sea views), 29 units were sold.

Now that the entire scheme is finished – down to the landscaping of the gardens – the final push is on and Sherry FitzGerald is handling the sale.

One-bedroom apartments, 51-60sq m (548-646sq ft), range in price from €295,000 to €360,000; two-bedroom apartments, 79-107sq m (851-1,151sq ft) from €400,000 to €570,000, and three bedroom apartments, 99-107sq m (1,065-1,151sq ft) from €600,000. Just one two-bed with uninterrupted sea views in the front block remains for sale at €525,000.

The variation in price depends on size but also on sea views; units in the front block facing right out to Dollymount are the most expensive (the three penthouse apartments in that block are already sold). But all except two apartments in the entire Seascapes scheme have some sea views – the block at the rear has been cleverly designed by architects John O Neil and Associates so as to give most owners even at lower levels glimpses of the sea.

Building regulations and standards have happily changed since the pre-boom apartment-building era and it shows in Seascape. The apartments are larger, each has good internal storage as well as a large storage unit in the car park, some apartments have utility rooms, there are no long corridors, insulation and soundproofing has improved and Seascapes has BER ratings of A2-B1 – although MKN went the extra mile by installing eco-friendly heat recovery systems. The finish inside is top end: limed oak flooring, bespoke 8ft entrance doors into each apartment, floor-to-ceiling windows, windows in the kitchen areas and good-sized, well-appointed bathrooms and en suites.

Researching heating systems, the developers followed a modern European model of a district heating system where a centralised plant room provides hot water and heating to each apartment. So the sleek Kube kitchens don’t have to accommodate a gas boiler.

 

Trading down

Buyers so far have predominantly been people trading down and such buyers tend to be the most demanding in the market. The annual service charge, ranging from €1,100 to €2,100, includes maintenance and refuse services, but also a caretaker on site three days a week. A single car space in the underground car park comes with most apartments (the larger ones have two) and there is some guest parking.

Meanwhile, MKN Developments is at the advance planning stage for its sites at Ridgewood in Swords and Sybil Hill Road in Raheny.

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