Blackrock House upgraded to utter elegance

The one-off, fully-furnished three-bed was one of two show apartments in Blackrock House, writes Tommy Barker.

THERE’S a coincidence of pricing, at €850,000, as the show apartment at the spectacular Blackrock House former convent conversion gets launched for sale, at the very heart of old Blackrock village in Cork harbour.

It’s the same price as the dearest of the 15 detacheds four-bedroomed homes that got launched, and snapped up, at the Botakina house scheme at the far, city end of the Blackrock Road two weeks ago.

And, not only are the prices equivalent, at €850,000, so too are the floor areas.

This one-off, three-bed apartment in a converted, upgraded and gracious 18th century building, has more than 2,500 sq ft of luxury living space, while Botanika’s detacheds have 2,385 sq ft, which equates to around €350 per square foot, and €333, psf at Blackrock House.

But, apart from sharing a price tag, approximate floor area and price per foot, plus a Blackrock tag in their addresses, there the comparisons stop.

The Botanika houses, due for completion by Christmas 2018, are being bought by trading up families: this singular show apartment, the stand-out one among the 27 within the meticulously-conserved building, will be bought by affluent singles, or a couple, and, most likely, by traders down, or corporate relocaters. 

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It’s quite likely it’ll be someone who has lived outside of Cork, and who will be smitten by the big picture lifestyle option here.

Set on the elegant building’s first floor, No 16 has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a triple aspect, with lift access and penthouse-like attributes and finishes. 

It was one of two show units done by Lisney back in August 2016 to launching the 27 apartments in the venerable old building.

The open days had hundreds of callers and viewers as the curiosity factor was high, and many who came were former pupils at the Ursuline girls school, and knew the building when it reeked of mansion wax, and possibly a bit of boiled cabbage.

Those memories are more than banished by the scent of flowers, candles, and hard cash.

More than a year on, 20 of the 27 apartments at the old Ursuline Convent (now rechristened Blackrock House) have been sold, at prices from €210,000 for a one-bed to €625,000 for a three-bed, albeit one smaller than No 16. Not all sales are yet on the Price Register, but it does show several selling in the €450,000/€460,000 price bracket also.

Now, having been widely admired, but not previously available, No 16 is put up for sale by Trish Stokes, residential director with Lisney’s Cork offices, for Dublin-based developer Michael Roden of Merrion Property Group. 

It’s being sold fully furnished, with the interiors done by Helen Roden of Merrion Square Interiors, and is suitably luxe with lush wall papers, deep upholstery, Villeroy and Boch bathrooms with Hans Grohe fittings, and a kitchen by Linehan Design.

But, high-end and all as the finishing work is, No 16’s essential elegance is thanks to a central position in the historic 35,0000 sq ft building, at first floor level, and its central setting, over the main arched, fan-lit entrance facing north, to Blackrock village.

Arches continue internally as a motif within No 16, with a high quality fanlight above double doors dividing the living room from the dining section which faces south, overlooking private grounds and an oratory. 

The building, with roots to 1720, and subsequent additions in the 1770s, and again in the early 1800s when associated with Nano Nagle, the Ursuline order, nunnery and a school, has architectural elan.

Among its finest features are its c 200 original sash windows, painstakingly removed, conserved, and reinstated.

One, an oval window on high on the second floor is the design motif for Blackrock House, and it sits above a round-headed window with traceried sash window, flanked by slender square-headed windows: it is the defining ‘look’ of what’s now apartment No 16, the very biggest and best of the 27 delivered here now, and heading toward selling out early next year.

Sales so far have been to a wide cross section from first-time buyers to traders down, wanting the convenience a location like Blackrock has to offer and “with the launch now of the show apartment, we are confident the interest in the last remaining units will be strong,” says Lisney’ s Trish Stokes.

Since the 27 apartments launched in the latter half of 2016, Blackrock village’s roll-out of civic-sponsored upgrades have continued: there’s new surfaces and seating areas by the harbour, thronged each Saturday with the farmers’ market; cafe culture has taken hold, and the area’s renewal, from dowdy, down-at-heel fishing village to Cork’s equivalent of Dalkey is now well advanced, with Blackrock House continuing at its core.

VERDICT: Utterly special.

Blackrock Village, Cork

€850,000

Size: 236 sq m (2,546 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

BER: Exempt

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