Better believe Botanika hype

All 31 upmarket homes are released at once, without phasing or a showhouse, says Tommy Barker

Blackrock Road, Cork City - €525,000-€850,000

  • Size: 1,232/1,550/2,385 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3/4
  • Bathrooms: 3/4
  • BER: A3

LAUNCHED, at last. The long-heralded €20m Cleve Hill Cork house development called Botanika — with a hallowed and halo-ed Blackrock Rd address — is out of the traps, and out of the ground. All 31 homes are released at once to sell without phasing or a showhouse, and with prices just confirmed.

Hitting the upper end of Cork city’s market price-wise and developed by Citidwell Homes, Botanika has 31 homes, 15 of them detacheds, on six acres with wooded boundaries, on the city side of Lindville and Ballintemple.

Its prices range from three-bedroomed semi-detached houses (just two of these) of 1,230 sq ft at €525,000, through four-bed semis of 1,500 sq ft, averaging €595,000, and on to 15 four-bed detached homes of 2,385 sq at €820,000 to €850,000.

It shows a price range per square foot from €350 psf for the larger detached homes, to €380 psf for most of the semis, and €426psf for the smaller two.

In the general scheme of things, the house sizes are quite modest: The cachet and convenience of Cleve Hill’s location, on the grounds of the long demolished Daly family’s Cleve Hill House, will carry the day, and hold sway.

Price variations are down to things like site size and aspect, and those who pre-registered with selling agents Suzanne Tyrrell and Jackie Cohalan of Cohalan Downing in the last several months were notified of prices in the past few days... and have been dropping in booking deposits by week’s end.

Ms Tyrrell and Ms Cohalan describe the well-received scheme as “landmark”, and say it lays down a strong calling card for developers Citidwell for future schemes.

The Blackrock Rd development will be notable for a number of factors, not least how long it takes to completely sell out, and how many resales it triggers into the second-hand market as buyers prepare to trade up or trade down.

Many will be cash buyers, who’ve been waiting for the scheme to be released.

It’s of interest that top prices remain in the €800,000-€900,000 range, and were pitched no higher, given the niche Blackrock catchment’s recent, post-recovery record of €1m-€2m house sales.

However, those loftier levels were for individual and larger homes, many of them period properties on mature grounds.

Botanika, on Cork’s Blackrock Road is just launched. Pictured, below, estate agents Suzanne Tyrrell and Jackie Cohalan with Richard Galvin of Citidwell. Pic Dan Linehan

The Price Register shows just two €1m-plus Blackrock area sales so far this year — one was the late Peter Barry’s family home Sherwood, which fetched €1.535m. Meanwhile, two single house sites sold by the Barry/Clune family each fetched over €500,000. At least two other Blackrock house sales of over €1m are due to close, while another, Montana on Crab Lane close to Cleve Hill, sold to a family for €1.14m and will be upgraded.

Botanika’s developers, Citidwell, completed four, three-storey 1,A-rated 1,600 sq ft houses at Bulls Lane by Ashton Comprehensive in 2015, selling for an average of €520,000, or €325 psf, before turning their gaze to Cleve Hill/Botanika. with a ‘k’.’

Botanika is possibly the best located, mid-sized scheme to launch in Cork’s suburbs for years. It’s about 20 years now since other upmarket ‘prestige’ schemes like Court Cairn and Lindville were launched, the Paddocks was back in 1990, and Hayfield around 2000. Botanika, with just 31 houses, is more niche than all of those.

(The Price Register shows just six Lindville resales since 2010, at prices from €515,000 to €950,000 in one exceptional case and most were in the €600,000/€735,000 price range.)

Architect for Botanika’s deep and tall two-storey, gable-fronted houses with top-quality pointed brick and dash finishes is Hogan Architecture, who also did most of the above-mentioned schemes, and this Cleve Hill site has some high-profile history.

Its 6.18 acres were sold by the Murphy family who built the existing 1950s Cleve Hill homes (mostly semis) to Howard Holdings in 2006 for an eye-watering €10.7m, and who planned 18 luxury homes for it.

It later was sold by a receiver to Leinster-based Oaktree Capital/Bridgetree Homes for €3m, and after they got a new planning for 31 semis and detacheds they ‘flipped’ it, to privately funded Cork-based Citidwell for an unconfirmed €6m.

That equates to a boom-time level of c€1m an acre, or an average of €200,000 per site ‘stand’.

And not only is the spec high, with top-quality finishes, there are higher than average ceiling heights, 7’ doors, and wider-than-usual stairs, with air-to-water geothermal heating and A-level BERs; the PC sums seem to hit new levels. The PC allowances set aside €40,000 for buyers’ choice of kitchens, robes, tiles, and flooring in the detacheds, and €25,000 PC sum for for four-bed semis.

They’re city homes too, as well as being suburban. Part-overlooking Monahan Rd and towards the Marina, the sloping site has had major and costly earthworks and a retaining wall to level much of the topography, and dozens of large trees will be replanted, say Citidwell directors Tom Murray, Richard Galvin, and Paul Ford.

The site’s within an easy, on-the-flat walk of the city centre, and Ballintemple village, although Blackrock village (on whose ‘lifestyle’ attractions much of Botanika sales marketing is pitched) is a bit more of a stretch, but still a walk.

Construction work started several months ago after site clearance (Storm Ophelia also took out lots of trees) and completion of the 31 new-builds is anticipated for autumn of next year.

The houses are on long/deep but relatively narrow sites, with a landscaping plan by Cunnane Stratton Reynolds, but there’s not much space separating the detacheds. Numbers 6 and 7 have very large sites, albeit with steep slopes at the northern end.

Roof pitches are steep, finishing with natural slate, and while there’s space in the roof for rooms/storage at a future date, they are being done to two-storey regulations. Windows are sash double glazing, by Munster Joinery with their premium sliding doors to the back, and the feature brick is Grafton, by Kingscourt, with a pale pointing, a mix settled on after nine sample wall panels were erected, and the same brick features in Botanika’s curved entrance pillars.

VERDICT: Going to be quite the buzz before Christmas, with completion by Christmas 2018.

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