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Published in Commercial Property on 13/01/2017

Top Construction & Property Stories: Your 10at10

#10at10 #newsroundup

CNI Editor reports

Some of the most noteworthy construction stories from the last week, as compiled by the team at Construction Network Ireland.

(Have a story you think should be covered? Contact editor@constructionnetworkireland.com)

1.

Plans have been approved by Dublin City Council for 1,700 homes on sites owned by the City, one of the biggest housing schemes in the city since the crash.

Half of the homes built will be private housing, along with 30 % social housing and 20 % affordable rental. The developments will be apartment-heavy with over 1,000 of the units envisioned as apartments.

The sites include the former O’Devaney Gardens social housing site adjacent to the Phoenix Park on North Circular Road; St. Michaels estate in Inchicore, also formerly council flats; and a site on Oscar Traynor Road.

The plan is to sell the three sites by public tender, with conditions on future use. The site at O’Devaney Gardens has been valued at €14 million. No value has been put on the other two sites as of yet.

2.

The Department of Housing has been overestimating the numbers of new houses being built by almost 90% according to architect and commentator Mel Reynolds.

The Department currently bases it’s figures – 15,000 approximately during 2016 – on information that it gets from the ESB. Based on stamp duty figures Reynolds estimates that the figure is closer to 8,000.

According to the Irish Times the Department of Housing declined to comment on Reynolds analysis.

If his estimates prove to be correct, it will be incumbent on the Department to show whether it is a case of serious ineptitude on its part, or of choosing figures that fit a particular narrative.

Neither are acceptable from a government agency, particularly in the midst of a housing and construction crisis.

3.

Developer Michael Taggart, who has been involved in a protracted battle with Ulster Bank, has been quoted in the Irish Independent as saying that rumours of bankruptcy following the conclusion of the case are correct, saying “the bank has left us with no option but to go for bankruptcy”.

Last month the Belfast High Court ruled that Taggart and his brother John were liable for personal guarantees of €4.3 million. A further €5.7 million personal guarantee is also believed to be outstanding.

The Taggart brothers had a 10 year legal battle with Ulster Bank over a site at Kinsealy in North Co. Dublin. Michael Taggart’s son Nick is currently engaged in building 1,000 homes in Northern Ireland over the next 3 years.

4.

A report published in Germany this week highlights the challenges facing the construction industry in Europe, with the outlook for growth predicted to be just 2% in 2017, but also highlighted Ireland’s positive growth prospects over the next 4 years.

Growth in the construction industry in Europe will grow just 2% in 2017, down on it’s previous prediction of 2.6%.

The result of the Brexit Referendum, uncertainty over the direction of the new US administration, and upcoming elections in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were all cited as reasons for the gloomy outlook.

The UK, Europe’s second-biggest construction industry after Germany, is expected to have negative numbers in 2017 (-0.2%), while EU stalwart Germany is expected to extend its lead as Euopes biggest industry with growth of 2.5%.

Ireland is expected to have growth of 8.5% in 2017, with similar numbers predicted in 2018 and 2019, the highest in Europe.

5.

Dublin’s CHQ building is to house a new microbrewery according to owner Neville Isdell.

CHQ Dublin has secured planning permission for construction of a new brewery which will be run by Victor Treacy and Jim O’Hara of Carlow Brewing Company, one of the oldest and most successful Irish craft brewers.

The CHQ building was redeveloped at a cost of €45 million and opened to much fanfare in 2007. The building was a flop initially, suffering from a lack of tenants and terrible footfall.

Since Isdell, former CEO of Coca-Cola Ireland, bought the building for €10 million in 2013 the building has done significantly better and the building has become a tech-hub as well as a popular lunchtime venue for workers based in the IFSC.

6.

Cork City Council has identified 90 properties in the City that it has designated as derelict, and intends to continue to levy fines on the owners until the buildings are redeveloped or sold on for development.

The latest tranche of designations happened this week, where 34 properties were designated derelict. The Council has already levied over €130,000 in fines on the owners of 56 properties designated as derelict, although only €43,000 has been collected.

7.

South African mining company Boliden is going to invest a further €44 million in its Tara Mines site, including expansion of a dam on the site in Co.Meath.

Boliden will invest €33 in the expansion of the dam, as well as €11 million on the construction of an ‘exploration drift’.

8.

Galway City Council is to spend an estimated €1.2 million fixing the traffic chaos caused by the 5 junction Kirwan Roundabout.

More than 40,000 vehicles pass through the junction between the hours of 7am and 7pm and the layout of the junction, also used by 1,000 pedestrians during the same hours, causes significant tailbacks on a main junction into the city.

9.

A report by Owen Reilly on the property landscape in the Dublin Docklands shows that prices and rents in the Docklands area rose by 12% in 2016.

The report also notes that the vast majority, 83% of agreed sales are to investor buyers, while 74% of sales are for cash.

The Docklands area continues to grow, and currently offers returns to investors of approx 5% per annum in rental yields. With the announcement by Google that it intends to grow its workforce to 7,000, this trend looks set to continue.

You can read the full report here.

And finally…

10.

It was one of the more audacious plans during the Celtic Tiger – and that is saying a lot – to build a ‘Las Vegas style’ development in Co. Tipperary, complete with casino, helipads, all-weather horse racing and greyhound racing tracks, at an estimated cost of €460 million.

As unbelievable as it sounds, it is only 6 years since An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead for the scheme, only for then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to bring in a bill against casinos of this size.

According to Fora.ie, businessman Richard Quirke still seems keen on the idea and Dublin Pool & Juke Box Ltd, the company he uses for his arcade business, said in its accounts to the end of 2015 that it is “continuing to purchase land and properties in order to develop a casino and leisure complex in Tipperary”.

The reason it is in the news this week is a new concept video for the site was apparently uploaded to YouTube, but the video has since been made private.

So will the Tipperary Casino ever come to fruition? We won’t bet the house on it…