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Dublin property firm bought Stardust site on behalf of foreign investors group

Xestra to promote site as retail development under name of Artane Place

The Stardust nightclub where 40 young people died in a fire on February 14th, 1981

The site where the Stardust nightclub once stood is now owned by a group of foreign investors who bought the property from Cairn Homes plc last year.

Known up to recently as the Butterly Business Park, the 3 hectare (7.5 acre) site in Dublin 5 where the Stardust once operated was owned by the Butterly family group at the time of the disaster.

The family group was established by Patrick Butterly (born 1919), who established a number of successful Dublin businesses, including the well-known Fruitfield jam brand.

In 1978, Eamon Butterly (79) and his father opened a bar and nightclub in part of what continued to be a food plant, with Eamon Butterly overseeing the development and acting as the general manager.

On the night of February 14th, 1981, a fire broke out at about 1.40am during a disco attended by more than 800 young people, mostly from the local area. Forty-eight died and more than 200 suffered injuries.

After the fire, the Butterly family group remained in business and one of the group companies successfully sued Dublin Corporation for compensation.

Planning application

Companies Office filings show that in 2008 the business park that was developed on the former site of the Stardust was used as security against a loan from AIB taken out by Patrick Butterly & Sons Ltd, and other group companies.

Two units in the Dublin Business Park, in Glasnevin, were also used to back the loan.

In 2012, a planning application submitted by Patrick Butterly & Sons Ltd, to build 178 residential units as well as commercial and retail units on the site of the Dublin 5 business park, was granted approval.

Meanwhile, Lidl was granted permission to build an outlet on another part of the same site.

The last accounts for Patrick Butterly & Sons were filed in 2011, and stated that at the end of the previous year it had shareholders’ funds of €35 million, with most of that arising from the increase in value over the years of the company’s property.

By that stage the group of family companies was owned by Eamon Butterly’s brother, Colm Butterly (73), by way of a holding company called Turret Properties Ltd. (Colm Butterly died on February 1st last.)

The group of companies was placed in receivership by AIB in 2012 and the receiver’s filings show that the business park was sold in 2014, raising €8.85 million. The units in Glasnevin raised €870,000.

In 2015, the listed home-builder, Cairn Homes, bought the business park but in 2019 the property was back on the market again.

Most of the site was bought by Xestra Asset Management, a Dublin property company, with the sale being completed early in 2020. Lidl owns the remainder of the site, on which it has an outlet and a car park.

Xestra’s chief executive Antoine Xavier told The Irish Times that Xestra bought the property on behalf of a group of foreign investors, and that the plan is to promote it as a neighbourhood retail development.

The name is to be changed to Artane Place, and a memorial to those who died in the 1981 tragedy is being worked on in co-operation with the relatives the victims of the disaster.

Tragedy

The landscape architect involved, Alan Butler, is a first cousin of Antoinette Keegan, who lost two sisters, Mary and Martina, in the tragedy.

Colm Butterly appears to have entered a period of financial difficulty in the wake of the Butterly group being placed in receivership.

In 2017, a case came before the Dublin Circuit Court where EBS was seeking to repossess his home in Clontarf.

The court heard that Butterly had taken out two loans that had been secured against the property, and had an arrangement to pay back slightly more than €1,000 a month.

He had made his repayments up to August 2012 when a receiver had been appointed to his group of companies, including to Patrick Butterly & Sons. He told the court he was unemployed but looking for consultancy work.

The judge in the case noted that two other financial institutions had judgments lodged against the property and that Mr Butterly clearly had other debts.

Eamon Butterly is no longer a director of any companies, according to Company Registration Office records.

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