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Archive for October 17th, 2011

NAMAed developer, Tom McFeely (Thomas McFeely pictured here) was on the receiving end of criticism from owners of apartments at the Priory Hall complex at the High Court this morning – “you couldn’t build a snow-man” one is reported to have shouted outside the court. The complex in Donaghmede, north Dublin (pictured here) which was launched in 2007 has 187 apartments and has been dogged by construction/quality problems from the beginning. The company which built the complex, Coalport Building Company Limited, has also faced criticism over the quality of other developments in Ard Dealgan, Quay Street in Dundalk and Aras na Cluaine, Clondalkin in Dublin. Tom McFeely along with his partner, Larry O’Mahony (Lawrence O’Mahony, sometimes mis-spelt Laurence O’Mahony pictured here) are reported to have loans which were transferred to NAMA.

Declan Taite of FGS was appointed by Irish Nationwide Building Society as receiver to the Priory Hall development following the collapse of the builder, Coalport, last August 2010. And in January 2011, the High Court appointed a liquidator, Derek Earl.

Last week RTE reported that Dublin City Council had written to the residents telling them that they might have to vacate the apartments following concerns over fire safety in the complex. The problems were reported to have included inadequate fire resistance in wall cavities, inadequate alarms, and potential problems with gas and electrical installations.

And at the High Court in Dublinon Friday last, the judge granted an evacuation order with a stay until this morning, when the order became effective. The 249 residents are to be evacuated to the three-star Regency Hotel in Drumcondra for four weeks at a reported cost of €368,000.(that’s €53 per person per day, according to my calculations which will be a nice boost for the Regency!). (UPDATE: 17th October, 2011. RTE broadcast news is reporting the cost at €200,000).It is not clear on what basis the Regency was chosen or who will foot the bill – the developer, the residents, Dublin City Council or the State.

It is not publicly known if any loan for Priory Hall is in NAMA, but NAMA has taken over all development loans at INBS regardless of value (thresholds of €20m apply to AIB and Bank of Ireland, €5m to Anglo and zero to EBS). The property is not on the August edition of the NAMA enforcement list. It is understood that most, if not all, of the apartments had been sold including 27 bought for social housing by Dublin City Council.

UPDATE: 17th October, 2011. In what is plainly a fluid situation, the Priory Hall case was again heard in the High Court this afternoon and the judge has stayed the evacuation order to Thursday 13th October to allow the residents further time to discuss evacuation plans with Dublin City Council, which RTE said was responsible for booking accommodation at the Regency Hotel, though it is still not clear who will pick up the enormous cost of the accommodation for four weeks.

UPDATE (1): 18th October, 2011. The Irish Independent today claims to have “learned” that the loan secured by the Priory Hall development with INBS was not transferred to NAMA last year and that further, it was “the first time the agency refused to take on a loan” apparently as a result of concerns over the build-quality of the property. The Independent also sheds some light on who will pay for the emergency accommodation – in the first instance it will apparently be the developers, Tom McFeely (or Thomas McFeely) and his partner Larry O’Mahony (Lawrence O’Mahony) and the judge at the High Court has reportedly ordered the pair to produce a statement of means by Friday 21st October. Laurence claims his interest in the property is limited to the land on which Priory Hall is built. If the developers are unable to produce the finance to cover the emergency accommodation, then it will fall to Dublin City Council to foot it. From this armchair perspective, it would seem that responsibility for the build-quality of the complex lies with the developers and their building company in the first instance, but it would seem that the planning, building regulations and compliance personnel at Dublin City Council have very serious questions to answer in the second instance.  The Independent today does a decent job of describing the history of inspection of the complex, but there appear to be four parties in the chain, the developer, the developer’s subcontractors, the architect employed by DCC and DCC itself, and there seems to be a degree of buck-passing, with DCC saying it relied on the architect’s report, the architect saying he relied on statements from subcontractors backed up with a visual inspection (“I wasn’t going to get a hammer out to check” seems to have been the architect’s position). The developer also shares in the process and had apparently wrote to the architect saying the building was  “in substantial compliance with planning permission and relevant building regulations”.

UPDATE (2): 18th October, 2011. In what seems like an unusual move, it is reported by the Irish Times that the judge at the High Court ordered the two individuals associated with the development of Priory Hall, Tom McFeely and Larry O’Mahony to surrender their passports by this morning (Tuesday morning). This apparently follows concern that the developers will not be able to meet the full costs of remedying the defects at Priory Hall including the bill for emergency accommodation for the 250-odd residents. The Irish Times reports that the Regency Hotel accommodation is costing €25 per adult per night bed and breakfast, €5 per child per night bed and breakfast and €7 for dinner, which seems incredibly cheap for the three-star hotel in Drumcondra though it would still be interesting to establish how the Regency was chosen for what might become a €200-358,000 contract from the State.

UPDATE: 19th October, 2011. NAMA does not have any loans linked to Priory Hall but the agency has issued a statement saying “the Agency would be willing to see whether it can assist with the housing needs of the residents of Priory Hall.  The spokesman said that the Agency would work with the authorities to see if it can make available some of the vacant housing units which are linked to loans held by NAMA and will engage with receivers and /or debtors in control of those units to see if suitable units can be made available on agreeable terms.”

UPDATE: 28th October, 2011. RTE reports that 37 NAMA properties will be offered to Priory Hall families next Tuesday 1st November, and that five further properties will be offered by housing associations. Currently there are 94 families staying in two hotels, the Regency and Bewleys hotels. The work on Priory Hall is said to be progressing satisfactorily but there is no reported update on when residents will be able to move back in.

UPDATE: 2nd November, 2011. The Irish Times reports that residents have been offered 37 properties by NAMA which are in Sean Mulryan’s The Coast Estate in Baldoyle, David Daly Albany Homes Clarehall Village estate in Malahide and Donal Caulfield & Leo Meenagh’s Belmayne estate in Coolock/Balgriffin.

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