Nama to look at vertical park plan for Anglo quay site


NAMA HAS invited the promoters of a “vertical park” for the concrete skeleton on North Wall Quay in Dublin, once mooted as headquarters for Anglo Irish Bank, to submit a formal expression of interest for the site before Christmas.

Architect Paschal Mahoney, co-ordinator of the Trees for the Quays project, said the invitation was given to the group by two Nama’s property portfolio managers at a meeting last Thursday.

“We had written to Nama’s chairman, Frank Daly, and then had a meeting for well over an hour with Kevin Nowlan and Colm Lundy to outline the proposal,” he said. “We felt they were anxious to be helpful and we’re to get access to the site on Wednesday.”

The project would involve punching through the concrete floorplates of the skeletal structure to make room for trees and walkways while using the rubble to create an open amphitheatre alongside, with a neighbourhood park to the rear, along Sheriff Street. Mr Mahoney said they also met with accountants McStay Luby, who are acting as receivers for the site, which is owned by the debt-laden Zoe Developments group. They learned the firm had not yet appointed sales agents to market it for disposal.

“The prime creditor would appear to be Nama,” he said. “We’re trying to persuade the agency to look at the bigger picture, and what the Trees for the Quays project would do in terms of increasing the capital value of surrounding properties in the area.

“We were advised of the situation regarding the property being in receivership and the restrictions this imposes, that the receiver has a fiduciary duty to the debtors to do the best financially for them and that this represented significant barrier.

“We are of the view that Nama cannot value this site on a stand-alone basis, as this site is immediately surrounded by several other Nama- controlled sites – so the valuation of the entire grouping of sites is far more important than this single site,” he said.

Separately, two former Zoe directors – David Torpey and John Pope – have set up a new business, Property Asset Management Enhancement Services, to generate interest in completing the North Wall Quay shells.

The eight-storey skeletal block has become something of an an icon of Ireland’s banking collapse. Among those said to be interested in leasing it is US bank BNY Mellon, which is looking at five potential sites in Dublin to centralise its 1,750-strong Irish workforce.

Among those backing the Trees for the Quays project is Philip Cronin, managing director of Intel in Australia and New Zealand, who was among those attending the recent Global Irish Forum in Dublin Castle. Mr Cronin is understood to have lobbied members of the Government, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to support the proposal, saying he could see great potential for the technology sector becoming associated with such a “sustainable” project.

Following a “very positive” meeting recently with one Government minister whom he declined to name, Mr Mahoney said his group had written to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan seeking their support.