House of the Week: 23 Geraldine Place

SINCE No 23 Geraldine Place last sold, back in 2010, the world around this niche Cork city setting has seemingly come back to rights.

There’s a confident swagger once more about Cork’s old docks renewal, for starters, and the most obvious example is the O’Callaghan Properties Navigation Square development now on site, and gone deep underground, to provide 350,000 sq ft of new offices on Albert Quay.

Able to accommodate up to 3,000 workers, it’s 250 metres, at most, from Geraldine Place, which is part of the nexus of narrow, characterful (think Coronation Street) inner city streets off Albert Road, by Marina Terrace and Hibernian Buildings.

No 23 Geraldine Place was bought by a young Cork woman back seven years ago, lured by location and convenience, but it took a bit of leap of faith at the time, when the property market was at low ebb, and confidence was on the floor.

The house, which was an executor sale, needed work, lots of it — a pretty full overhaul in fact. Work started in August 2010, and was finished by February 2011, thanks she readily admits, to lots of overseeing work by her father who agreed to project manage it and coordinate the various tradespeople.

She’s now selling No 23, after marrying and with a three-month baby boy come to rule the roost; the young family have a house building project underway too, west of the city, but say they’ve loved living here, with the city and amenities right on their doorstep.

Since 2010, the changes in the immediate locale have been many, and various.

The €60m One Albert Quay got built, and fully occupied, and now Navigation Square will continue the docklands’ office move east of Cork’s old business core. 

Goldbergs bar joined the stalwart Idle Hour, and the Sextant. Salt cafe came next, by the green at Kennedy Park. Also new to the foodie scene is Sonny’s Deli, at the corner of Geraldine Place, by the popular post office.

The Elysian, which hoves into view (all 17 storeys of it) just to the east of Albert Road, is now virtually fully let for the first time, a decade after its razzle-dazzle 2008 launch, just as global financial markets went into a tailspin.

There are 214 apartments plus commercial/retail space (an Aldi) at the Elysian: might there even be 200 of these artisan, two-storey inner city homes in all, spread low in terraces across acres of ground? Hibernian Buildings alone has 99 around its six long terraces, dating to the 1880s, when this residential part of the city by the docks welcomed Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in eastern Europe.

At one stage, Albert Road’s hinterland was home to over 50 families of that faith, earning it the affectionate local moniker ‘Jewtown’. 

The historical link is recalled still in the naming of the area’s second, small city green and playground as Shalom Park, perhaps 150 metres from the front door of No 23 Geraldine Place.

That’s all background to the joys of the location, say the quite reluctant departing occupants of No 23 as they head countrywards, and they add the setting here is exceptionally quiet, especially at night.

In charge of the sale of No 23 is Lawrence Sweeney of Savills, who guides the c 850 sq ft mid-terraced home at €225,000 (open viewing Wednesday at 4pm), stressing it’s in walk-in condition, with everything done, snug as a bug, warm and toasty, with central heating and a wood-burning stove in a reclaimed brick hearth in the rear living room.

Mr Sweeney is expecting interest from first-time buyers and young professionals working in the city, and also feels he may get investor interest, as one of the ground floor rooms (to the front) can be used as a third bedroom.

(In the early days, No 23’s owner used the Rent a Room tax breaks to help with mortgage payments.) It has 750 sq ft, all cleverly used, with two ground floor rooms, linking at the back to a newly-fitted kitchen with tiny utility and WC.

Walls have been drylined, and floors were dug up, insulated and a damp proof membrane fitted and relaid with pale white tiles. A triangular glass panel by the stairs lets extra light flow around the kitchen, and the woman of the house recalls the painstaking stripping of seven layers of patterned wallpaper, before deciding to take out the wall and to refashion it with a stud partition and glazing instead, for more light.

Overhead, walls were moved to create a new first floor bathroom with shower (the first time plumbing made it upstairs) and the two bedrooms now appear spacious, partly thanks to extra high-vaulted ceilings, and there’s still left over space in the attic further up for storage.

The Price Register records nearly 20 sales back to 2010 around Albert Road, with one of the latest, No 27 Geraldine Place, down at €176,000 in 2016. The Register also reveals that this house, No 23, made €139,000 when bought in its rough and ready state, back in 2010. It doesn’t yet record the very strong sale of a similar era home at 3 Marina Terrace, which featured here in December 2016, guiding €240,000. That house, No 3, had an imaginative extension downstairs and a quirky attic room but yet was under 1,000 sq ft all-in, and is understood to have sold for c€300,000.

VERDICT: No 23’s small, but perfectly formed and set.

Albert Road, Cork city

€225,000

Size: 68 sq m (750 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 2/3

Bathrooms: 2

BER: C1

Best Feature: city living

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