Locals jointly buy Dartmouth Square park

 

A day of mystery and intrigue in the Shelbourne Hotel ended with Dublin City Council and local residents coming together yesterday evening to buy Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh for €142,000.

The sale of the two-acre square was to be one of the highlights of the latest Allsop/ Space auction of distressed properties, with the auctioneers setting a reserve price of €140,000 on the two-acre square.

In an unusual move, the auctioneers had insisted that bidders pre-register with a deposit of €14,000. All told four bidders stumped up the deposit, but when the lot came up for auction the room fell silent. Not a single bid was made and the square was withdrawn.

Notoriety

Dartmouth Square was being sold on the instructions of the court-appointed liquidator of Marble and Granite Tiles.

In 2005 Noel O’Gara achieved notoriety after he bought the park for about €10,000 from PJ Darley, whose ancestors had built the square in the 1880s.

He attempted to operate a tile showroom and car park on the site but his efforts were blocked and the square was subsequently returned to public use.

Mr O’Gara, in the hotel for the auction, staged a small protest at the way the property was, in his view, taken from him. “This is all a set-up,” he said. “The council have been trying to scare off other bidders by saying that anyone who buys the square will have no right to possession of it.

“Who would want to buy a piece of land that they could not take possession of?”

While he suggested that bidders had been scared away, unfolding events suggested otherwise.

The council, a group of local residents and a third mystery bidder were in the running after the lot was publicly withdrawn.

The council initially bid €50,000 but this was quickly doubled by the mystery bidder. The council then went to €110,000 and again its bid was topped. The residents then joined the fray bidding up to €117,000 with the understanding that the council would pay €110,000 of the final amount in order to return the square to public ownership.

However the third bidder then came in with €118,000 at which point the auctioneer asked for sealed bids.

Public park

The council and residents bid €142,000, which was enough to secure the square.

“I am delighted that Dublin City Council with the support of local residents has been able to reacquire Dartmouth Square and return it to the city as a public park,” said local councillor Oisín Quinn.

He said uncertainty over the future of the square had caused an “anxious time for many local residents”. Dubliners needed “access to these parks and squares and retaining Dartmouth Square as a valuable green space and local public park was always the sensible outcome to this saga”.

Square rules: Dartmouth countdown

1880sDartmouth Square is built .

2005PJ Darley sells the Dartmouth Square park to businessman Noel O’Gara for €10,000.

January 2006Residents discover the park is privately owned. Gates padlocked shut.

July 2006Mr O’Gara attempts to run the square as a public car park.

September 2006The High Court blocks an attempt to use the land as a public car park. An Bord Pleanala issues a compulsory purchase order.

October 2006Mr O’Gara fails in a High Court challenge against the planning laws the council is using to prevent him from using the land as a car park.

March 2007Mr O’Gara tries to sell tiles from his business in the park but residents object. Mr O’Gara puts the park up for sale.

June 2007The Circuit Civil Court seizes the assets of Mr O’Gara’s tile company after he disobeys court orders relating to the unauthorised use of the park.

June 2008:Council abandons plans to buy the square.

December 2008Mr O’Gara is fined €1,000 after tents are erected in the park.

June 2009The park is opened to the local community .

December 2012Mr O’Gara fails to secure a High Court order setting aside a settlement agreement concerning ownership of the square.

YesterdayDartmouth Square is bought by Dublin City Council for €142,000 with the support of local residents.