Developer and Press Up Entertainment chief Paddy McKillen Jr is in negotiations to acquire the Clerys premises on O’Connell Street from businesswoman Deirdre Foley’s Natrium consortium for a figure of over €60m, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
McKillen Jr was described last night by a source familiar with the matter as being in “pole position” to secure ownership of the former flagship department store.
A number of other parties, including the US real estate giant Thor Equities, remain in contention, however, having submitted “very strong bids” in the sales process which has been codenamed ‘Project Surf’.
Asked if McKillen Jr, who runs Press Up with Matt Ryan, was now in exclusive talks in relation to the proposed acquisition of the iconic Clerys premises, the source said the developer was engaged in a “serious conversation” with Natrium and that “things were moving quickly”.
Should an agreement be reached between the parties, Natrium stands to secure a substantial profit on the €29m it paid for the O’Connell Street property in 2015.
McKillen Jr has had an interest in the Clerys building for some time.
Earlier this year, the businessman was one of up to 30 parties who expressed an interest in operating the hotel which was proposed by Natrium as part of the department store site’s redevelopment.
Prior to offering Clerys for sale, Natrium had engaged the services of Knight Frank, Savills and CBRE to secure office and retail tenants and a hotel operator as part of its own plan to proceed with the delivery of the hugely ambitious project.
Natrium, which is made up of Foley’s D2 Private and London-based Cheyne Capital, secured planning permission from Dublin City Council in December 2016 for a major mixed-use development comprising offices, retail units, leisure facilities and a boutique hotel despite the objections of former workers who lost their jobs when the landmark department store suddenly changed ownership.
McKillen’s father, Paddy McKillen Sr, came close to acquiring Clerys in his own right in 2013, when it was owned by the US-headquartered restructuring specialists Gordon Brothers Group.
The Belfast-born property investor had envisioned the reinvention of the famous store.