A Dublin housing scheme which was launched with an eye-catchingly lavish advertising campaign in 2007 - but became a a ghost estate after the property crash - has been redeveloped for social housing.
More than eight years since construction began at Churchwell Rise in Belmayne, beside Darndale on the northern fringes of Dublin city, another 125 apartments have been completed and are being occupied by tenants of the Clúid housing association.
The State’s largest housing association, Clúid already manages 134 apartments in Belmayne, and the additional 125 homes make the estate the biggest housing development on its books.
Footballer Jamie Redknapp and his pop-star wife Louise, who attended the extravagant launch of Belmayne in 2007, were on Wednesday replaced by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, who said the development was a "model" of how social housing could be provided.
In 2007, developers Stanley Holdings and LM Developments announced plans to build more than 2,000 homes in Belmayne with a provocative advertising campaign involving models frolicking on soft furnishings and kitchen counters with slogans such as "Something's cooking @ Belmayne", "After hours @ Belmayne" and "Gorgeous living comes to Dublin".
Less than half the apartments, which eight years ago ranged in price from just under €300,000 to almost €500,000, were built, and a large number of them remained unoccupied for several years after construction, turning the development into a ghost estate.
In 2009, Clúid, with housing associations Hail and Sonas, bought 75 completed units in Belmayne. At the same time, Dublin City Council bought 59 of them and appointed Clúid as management agent.
At the time, the estate was in a very poor condition, Clúid spokeswoman Karen Kennedy said.
‘Rubbish piled up’
“When we first visited this development over six years ago, there were high rates of anti-social behaviour, rubbish was piled up on the streets, and there were derelict buildings everywhere.
“Today, almost all the properties are occupied, houses have been turned into homes, and there is a growing sense of community.”
Last year, Clúid reached agreement with Nama to take over the 125 Church Rise apartments through a lease agreement which sees Clúid pay a percentage of its rents to the agency’s property company, Nama Asset Residential Property Services (Narps).
Some 60 per cent of the newly finished apartments are social rented dwellings for people on Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list.
Of these, one third are reserved for people who have been homeless.
The remaining 40 per cent are let at market rents to those who can afford to pay a higher rent.