Councillors approve sales of refurbished Priory Hall apartments

Agreement allows purchasers to move into New Priory homes by Christmas

A file photograph from August showing Priory Hall under demolition and reconstruction. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

A file photograph from August showing Priory Hall under demolition and reconstruction. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Dublin city councillors have approved sales of “New Priory” apartments amounting to more than €7 million, allowing new owners to move into their homes by Christmas.

Earlier this year, the council completed the refurbishment of 60 apartments at Priory Hall, the notorious fire-trap complex in north Dublin built in 2007 by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely.

Work on the remaining 120 apartments is due to start early next year. The cost of the refurbishment is expected to exceed €36 million.

In October, 43 refurbished apartments went on sale under the name New Priory, and have made a total of €7.3 million, with all sold within days of viewing.

City councillors approved the sales on Monday night to allow the new owners to move in to the apartments in the coming weeks.

Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Michael O’Brien wanted to stop the sale of six of the apartments, which he said were being sold to property firms.

“My concerns about this on transparency grounds as well as on grounds of the obscenity of Dublin City Council selling apartments to property firms in the context of a housing and homelessness crisis were brushed aside by some of my fellow councillors in a recent area committee meeting in Coolock, ” he said.

“I am inundated daily with calls from local housing applicants, many facing their second Christmas in emergency accommodation who cannot understand why Dublin City Council is doing this.”

While most of the apartments are being sold to named individuals, three are being bought by Harley Holdings, two by Gaughran Homes Ireland and one by Woodview Trading Limited.

However council chief executive Owen Keegan said the agreement under which banks wrote off the debts of former owner -occupiers could “unravel” if the sales were not approved.

“If we start picking the agreement apart there is a real danger the whole agreement will unravel.”

Funding required from the Department of Housing to refurbish the remaining 120 apartment could also be at risk if the sales did not go ahead, Mr Keegan said.

“There is a real risk everything will stop, and we will be back with a half refurbished block and we will lose all credibility.”

Under the 2013 deal, reached two years after the residents left the complex by order of the High Court, banks agreed to write off debts of 62 owner-occupiers, and 25 buy-to-let owners were given a moratorium on mortgage payments.

The council agreed to sell the 62 apartments that were owner-occupied, as well as 65 apartments that were owned by Mr McFeely and were subsequently taken over by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

The council had owned 35 apartments in the complex, and these will remain as social housing, while the buy-to-let investors will be handed back their apartments once complete.