By Tommy Barker
A decade after completion, and having weathered the economic crash, Cork's iconic Elysian tower and its 211 flanking apartments are now fully occupied.
Marking Christmas 2017 as the period in which the 17-storey tower and wings finally came to life on a 'Gateway' site next to Cork's City Hall, 600 Elysian occupiers tonight lit up their apartments for a brief, shining period in a gesture of final arrival.
As luck had it, the evening for the Elysian's dramatic skyline salutation was shrouded in a day-long, and into-the-night, fog.
However, the lights-on symbolic gesture does signal the end of a very long, and drawn-out chapter of vacancy and unfulfilled hopes, as the Elysian (the tallest tower in the country for a period) now ventures into 2018 with a €100m price tag on its crown, likely to be bought by an international fund eyeing its €4m-€5m rental income stream.
Delivered on a three-acre city site bought from An Post for €15m, the development by O'Flynn Construction and designed by Wilson Architecture was valued at €150m on launch, fatefully two days after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the US. Its target market was affluent owner-occupiers for the 211 apartments, including a number of 2,500 sq ft penthouses, at launch prices from €375,000 to €1.8m.
ACC Bank moved into the ground floor in '08. Since then, ACC and its successor Rabo have departed Ireland; a profile retail unit that now holds a successful Aldi, and other commercial space is finally filling up too, 10 years on.
In 2014, US equity giant Blackstone acquired €1.8bn of O'Flynn Construction debt and assets from Nama for €1.1bn. After a high-stakes, High Court skirmish and €400m consensual settlement, the O'Flynns agreed a deal with Blackstone, in which they bought back development sites, and also continued to manage the Elysian building, completing its internal fit-out over the past year for Blackstone and for the rental market.
Now being flipped to international buyers by Blackstone, rents are as lofty as the 81-metre tower with its colour-shifting beacon. They range from one-beds at €1,300 per month, to €3,500 for the largest penthouses, according to estate agents Lisney, who say the penthouses are popular with families with young children, relocating from abroad to Cork for new jobs, and new starts.
Lisney's Trish Stokes, involved with the building since the mid-2000s, tonight observed: “It is great to see The Elysian fully occupied, and you can really appreciate this in the dark winter evenings when all the lights are on, particularly in the tower.”