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Archive for August 26th, 2011

As campaigns go, you have to admire the chutzpah and clarity of the one illustrated above. The photograph shows a banner unveiled today above Korky’s shoe-shop in Grafton Street in Dublin, a couple of hundred metres from Government buildings. The subject of the banner is one of the most vexed issues in Irish commercial property at present, the imminent introduction of legislation to allow commercial tenants to secure current market rents in leases which presently provide for Upward Only Rent Reviews (UORRs). The property industry is blaming the uncertainty over the new measures for the almost complete elimination of investment transactions at present, tenants are clamouring for the new legislation blaming existing rents, which can be benchmarked with boom-era rents, for threatening their livelihood and that of their employees and neighbourhoods, existing investors are nervous about the financial impact of any changes on the value of their assets and I am willing to bet the government is anything but sure-footed over the cost of the new provisions and the potential for constitutional and other legal challenge.

The latest news on the subject that has been reported, was an article in the Irish Sunday Times in July which claimed to preview the new legislation (the article is not available online without subscription but you can get most of the details in the update at the bottom of this blogpost). There was also a meeting between Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter and tenant representatives at the start of August, reported in the Sunday Business Post here. The Department of Justice did not offer any comment on the Sunday Times story, but the expectation is that a Bill will be unveiled at the end of September which will set out the proposed legislation. There will be a feature entry on here then.

There have been two extensive entries on the subject of UORRs on here previously (available here and here)

And if you didn’t know already, Ronan Keating of Boyzone fame was a one-time employee at Korky’s shoe-shop

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Developer Robert Butler’s 16,500 sq ft mansion in the grounds of Adare Manor, Limerick is up for sale through Sherry Fitzgerald for €2.9m (just €175 psf, the advertisement on DAFT.ie is here). Known as “Winterwood” the house is set on its own plot of 2.8 acres within the wider 840-acre hotel and golf resort; it boasts eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms and five reception rooms and a feature double staircase. Doesn’t look too shabby at all on the inside but a personal opinion is that its external architecture is typically bland – why is it that we can’t do high-end architecture in this country?

The Irish Independent reports on the sale today and says that it was worth €12m at the height of the boom, and today’s asking price represents a 76% discount.

The Irish Independent recently reported that companies associated with Robert Butler were now dealing with NAMA. Apparently loans from these companies transferred to NAMA in February 2011 and would therefore have been amongst the later tranches. A note to the accounts of Robert Butler Holdings said “NAMA has agreed to initially provide financial support to the company’s operation, in very specific terms, for a three-month period commencing May 20, 2011”

I see the advertisement on DAFT.ie is 22 days old. NAMA has said that as part of its approach to agreeing business plans with developers, the developers will be required to bring unencumbered assets to the table. It is not known if the sale of “Winterwood” is at the behest of NAMA.

Robert Butler has properties in the Shannon Free Zone and National Technology Park. He is possibly most associated today with what the Irish Independent claims is a €15m development on Henry Street in Limerick.

You might be tempted to compare the sale of the “Winterwood” mansion in Adare with the sale of Updown Court, “Britains Most Expensive House” to which NAMA appointed receivers this week. Set on 58 acres, the 50,000-sq ft, 24-bedroom pile has five swimming pools, stables, tennis and squash courts, a bowling alley, a helipad and garage space for eight cars. The property is in Surrey, about 30 miles from central London. The property has its own website here and its owner, developer Leslie Allen-Vercoe had been trying to flog it for six years before NAMA appointed CB Richard Ellis as receivers. It is not known how much NAMA want for the property but reporting has suggested that NAMA paid just GBP 20m (€23m) for the loan underpinning it, and given NAMA’s core objective of recouping its purchase price there is reason to suppose the price will be in that region.

UPDATE: 3rd March 2012. The property has now reportedly been sold for €1.9m equivalent to €115 psf.  According to David Raleigh at the Irish Times, the identity of the buyer has not been disclosed.

UPDATE: 5th March 2012. The sale of the above property was first reported by Anne Sheridan at the Limerick Leader on Friday last 2nd March, 2012.

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