Prime site opportunity in top residential area

CBRE, which is celebrating the opening its first office in Cork city, is the selling agent for an interesting property in Blackrock that has just come to market.

The former office block Springville House on the city end of Cork's Blackrock Road has just come to market with CBRE.

Located close to Ashton Comprehensive School, head of CBRE in Cork, Denis O’Donoghue, says the site would be an ideal location for an apartment development. Several blocks are already in-situ by the school, and with housing in historic short supply, it is an area that would be remarkably popular for development purposes.

The property is sited along the Blackrock Road at the access to a walled cul-de-sac known as Bull’s Lane. What stands there now is a 1960s office block that was hit by fire some years ago. It is described by the sales agent as ‘a prime site’ containing the almost 17,600 sq ft former headquarters of Pettit Consulting Engineers, acquired by Mott McDonald in 2006. More recently it served as the offices of the ill-fated Cape Verde Development operation headed up by Clonakilty native, Tom Sheehy.

The location is key in this particular sale. Positioned along the western end of Blackrock Road it offers convenient access to the city centre and to Blackrock village, Douglas and Mahon.

O’Donoghue expects the site to generate significant interest, as he describes Blackrock Road as “one of Cork’s most desirable residential addresses, hosting some of its finest homes with prices perennially at the upper end of the scale.” Late last year a nearby 6.1 acre site at Cleve Hill, with planning permission for 32 houses, is believed to have raised in excess of €5 million.

It was sold by Oaktree Capital, who had acquired the asset following the liquidation of Howard Holdings. O’Donoghue says this is a record in the most recent development land market cycle. This site is now home to Citadella, a residential development by Citidwell Ltd to be released shortly.

In Cork, Blackrock has long been rated as a high-end living environment, with ease of access to the N40 South Ring Road and the city, along with proximity to Mahon Point Shopping Centre. On the 0.60 acre (0.24 hectare) is currently sited a 1,634 sq m (17,591 sq ft) office building. The property has been subject to two residential planning applications, one for 29 apartments, seven townhouses and 40 parking spaces and another for 24 apartments, five townhouses and 41 parking spaces. Both were granted, but consequently overturned by An Bord Pleanála. Planning permission was ultimately granted for the refurbishment of the existing office building in 2010, but this permission has since expired.

According to the agent there is still potential, subject to planning permission, for a conversion to apartments within the existing shell.

O’Donoghue says that apartment properties in the area are in strong demand, evidenced in the piecemeal sale of Blackrock House to owner-occupiers. Here, two bedroom units recorded sales prices well in excess of €400,000 per unit, the equivalent of €350 per sq ft.

He also says there may be the possibility for the retention and conversion of the existing building into a primary health care centre, a significant growth area due to a governmental push toward the ‘care in the community’ concept to relieve ongoing and increasing pressure on acute hospitals.

The property is being offered for sale by private treaty with an asking price of €1.5m.

All enquiries to CBRE at 021-4917255.

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