Prime Cork City redevelopment site sold for over €7 million

31/01/2019 - 10:45

By Tommy Barker
One of the best remaining, compact prime redevelopment sites in Cork city has been sold for over €7 million, for 0.63 of an acre, or for the equivalent of €11 million per acre, to Dublin-based purchasers. The river-fronting plot, facing City Hall and by the South Mall, is likely to be developed for mixed hotel/office use, at up five-storey heights.

Behind the swoop on the combined Moores Hotel and AOH Hall properties off the city’s business boulevard the South Mall, and sold by competitive tender via agents ERA Downey McCarthy, are Irish and international investors Warren Private, with the Dublin-based Greenleaf Group, headed by third generation developer Mark Elliott.

Now due for a significant, high-profile development are the combined Morrisons Quay properties occupied by the former Moores Hotel, on 0.54 of an acre, encircling the adjacent hall of the Ancient Order of Hibernians at 11 Morrisons Quay.

The prestigious and highly attractive site attracted a very wide range of interest and bidding, with a tender date prior to Christmas and a closing due by February 14.

Key to the successful sale which went well over the already-confident guide reaching an unconfirmed €7m-plus was the knitting together of the two properties, under separate ownerships, to pave the way for a single, clear development site opportunity.

Individually, and initially, the AOH site had a €900,000 guide price quoted by ERA’s Sean McCarthy, for its member-owners, who are to seek another smaller city premises.

This was swiftly followed on the open market by the Moores Hotel site of 0.54 acre, guided at €4.75m by ERA Downey McCarthy. Vendors there are understood to have include the Heas family, who operated the hotel for decades, with members of the retailer Casey family.

The historic hotel, with three varied C19th facades and in overall poor condition, had ceased trading 15 years ago, and was for a period used on a temporary basis by the Cork School of Music, when it was replacing its Union Quay music school in the mid 2000s.

The AOH/Moores block, just east of the College of Commerce by Keeffe Street/itton Street and on a city quay ear-marked by City Hall for a €6m public realm upgrade and flood relief measures, faces that new School of Music.

Effectively an adjunct to the South Mall, this quay site is also close to City Hall, to the redeveloped Courthouse on Anglesea Street, and to UCC’s new management school at Lapps Quay.

New owners Warren Private and Greenleaf Group (primarily Leinster residential developers, family-linked to the former major construction firm P Elliott & Co) are understood to be planning a total site redevelopment, for office and hotel usage, for their first Cork and Munster foray

Those elements come as Cork developers JCD Group finalise the first new office block on the South Mall in decades, with a 46,000 sq ft build at and behind 85 South Mall, and just after a new 193-bed hotel, a Maldron, opened at South Mall/Parnell Place.

Also on the proposed hotel front is a new, 58-bed boutique hotel at 71 South Mall, the old NIB bank premises, bought off-market from an investor owner for an unconfirmed c. €1.5m via agent Kevin Barry. It was purchased by South Mall Hospitality, headed by Dublin-based Ray Byrne, owner of the Wineport Lodge, and Eoin Doyle. A hotel-use planning application has been lodged this month for 71 South Mall by Scott Tallon Walker architects.

The equity funding Warren/Greenleaf pairing and buyers of Cork’s Morrisons Island/Quay site are currently developing a new €30m hotel on Dublin’s South Great George’s Street.

They’ve been known to have eyed several Cork city sites, opportunities and investments since the first half of 2018, in conjunction with Reddy Architecture.

Launching to an autumn 2018 market, Sean McCarthy of ERA Downey McCarthy (and later, combining the two sites for a €5.65m all-in guide,) said the block would suit “an abundance of various uses to include residential, office, leisure, educational, institutional etc.”

In the event it sold for the values akin to Celtic Tiger times, at an equivalent of €11m per acre.

It’s understood to have got inquiries from all of those sectors, including student accommodation. Mr McCarthy declined to confirm the sales details, or other bidders, while it’s understood that the strongest bids came from out-of-town... continuing a recent trend of Cork city, docklands and suburban site purchasers from outside the region’s traditional developer/investor core.

DETAILS: ERA Downey McCarthy 021-4905000