Soundmigration posted the above video on youtube, which shows the building and illustrates the activity there today.
To be honest I’m not even sure the building is even in NAMA, but this morning a group of people gained access to an office building on Great Strand Streetin Smithfieldin Dublin1. There are claims that nos 66-67 Great Strand Streetbelonged to developer Hugh O’Regan who is indeed associated with NAMA. NAMA has recently sold his Morrison Hotel around the corner to Russian, Yelena Baturina for a reported €25m. There were claims that today’s occupied building is on the NAMA foreclosure list but if it is, it’s not immediately obvious, but then again NAMA has been criticised for poor addressing of properties in the past. There is a good collection of photographs here showing the occupation and condition of the building.
In any event, the aim of the day was to draw attention to empty buildings that could well be in NAMA, and to ask if there wasn’t a better, more immediate use to which these buildings could be put. The occupation was set to last for no more than 12 hours, and beyond making a point, it was to have included talks on NAMA, its lack of transparency and the issue of empty buildings. The occupying group published a programme for the day which was to have included presentations, it is claimed, by Michael Taft, economist from UNITE and Andy Storey, lecturer at UCD.
Reports claim that about 70 people turned up, that Conor McCabe, author of Sins of the Fathers, made a presentation, but at around 3pm, the boys and girls in blue turned up with solicitor in tow, and ordered the building to be cleared in 10 minutes. There is no suggestion of criminal damage being done to the building which is in pretty poor condition internally – there is evidence of severe water ingress and damage – and about an hour later, people had more or less left, and removed themselves to a nearby pub, Nealon’s on Capel Street, to complete what seems to have been a useful event.
NAMA might say that it doesn’t own property, it owns loans and that it is the responsibility of the developer to secure and maintain the building. Having said that, NAMA, has appointed receivers to about 1,000 properties, some of which contain multiple units. I understand that there is legal action afoot after protesters in Cork occupied an empty commercial building onOliver Plunkett Street over the Christmas period. The owner of the building, a company called Padlake Limited had previously been struck off and was seemingly restored at the Company Registration Office in order to pursue its legal action.
There is seemingly a group which organised the protest and occupation today called Unlock NAMA which says it has three demands “1) Make NAMA properties available for social and community use 2) Publish full addresses and details on all properties under NAMA 3) Publish full details on all sales of NAMA assets” Some 20-30% of Dublin’s commercial space is presently vacant, which is considerably above a long term average of 7% (though it has been suggested – unconvincingly in my view – in recent times that the “normal” vacancy rate is closer to 15%)