Light House cinema rent to pay Nama, says landlord

 

THE LANDLORD of the Light House Cinema building in Dublin has said he had to double the rent on the premises to meet his obligations to the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

John Flynn said there were a lot of “emotive soundbites” about his decision to raise the rent of the cinema in Dublin’s Smithfield from €100,000 to €200,000, but critics did not take account that he was also subsidising its operations.

Mr Flynn maintained his company, Fusano Properties, which owns the Light House building, had been approached by two alternative cinema operators who were willing to take over if his dispute with his tenants was not resolved.

The building must remain as an arthouse cinema as a condition of its planning permission.

In his first public comment since he filed a petition in the High Court to wind up the company that operates the cinema, Mr Flynn said he was regarded in “theatrical terms as the bad guy, and that’s not going to change”, but he had obligations to pay back his loan on the premises to Nama.

The order against the Light House Cinema Exhibition and Distribution Company will be heard in the High Court this morning.

Mr Flynn claims the company owes almost €157,000 dating back to May last year, when the rent was increased from €100,000 to €200,000 per annum.

Mr Flynn said the building cost €10 million and was mostly financed by Anglo Irish Bank. The State also provided €1.75 million to fit out the premises.

The loan now rested with Nama as part of several developments he owned and he estimated his repayments to Nama in relation to the cinema were €350,000 a year.

“If Nama says, ‘it’s okay, give them a 50 per cent discount,’ that’s fine,” he said.

A spokesman for Nama said it was “wholly inappropriate” that it should engage itself in a disagreement between a tenant and landlord.

“That relationship is a matter for those two parties to work out to the best of their ability, and not one that Nama should be dragged into,” the spokesman said.

Light House Cinema director Neil Connolly said the rent had been negotiated in better times when it was envisaged that Smithfield would be a “bustling, dynamic urban quarter”.