Developers swoop for Albert Quay site of Carey Tools and Sextant bar

The Albert Quay Carey Tool Hire site, which includes the Sextant bar also owned by the Carey family since the 2000s, with the nearly complete Navigation Square Block A in the background.

Developers JCD have made an off-market multi-million euro swoop on the Cork city Albert Quay site occupied for the past 50 years by family-owned Carey Tools, including the Sextant bar which was subsequently acquired by the Carey family.

Market sources put the value of the site deal at between €7m and €8m, but this is unconfirmed.

The proposed development will see Carey Tools relocate, the Sextant bar close from February 16, and be demolished, with a new bar-restaurant created in retained, protected buildings on another corner of the site in a rapidly transformed city quarter, between City Hall and the south docks campus.

A JCD spokesperson said the company was considering all options, and not just offices, for the site they’ve now acquired: “no decision has been made on its future uses,” it was stated.

The pivotal 0.9 acre plot, to be redeveloped primarily for offices, is between JCD’s fully occupied €60m 170,000 sq ft One Albert Quay seven-storey office development, and is directly alongside O’Callaghan Properties’ 350,000 sq ft Navigation Square office scheme on Albert Quay and which will have blocks facing onto Albert Road.

Architects for both OCP’s Navigation Square, and JCD’s One Albert Quay, were Henry J Lyons.

It is understood that O’Callaghan Properties had also recently expressed an interest in acquiring the Carey Tools property, given its proximity to its 350,000 sq ft Navigation Square office development, with work now rapidly advancing on OCP’s Block B, and where Block A is now at tenant fit-out stage over three floors for anchor tenants Clearstream.

The Carey Tools/Sextant site fronts onto Albert Quay, Albert Street and Albert Road, embracing protected structures including a former two-storey rail station administration building and a curved, Victorian single-storey ticket office: it was the location for the Cork Blackrock and Passage West rail service, from 1873 (when it relocated from Victoria Road) until the line closed in 1932.

The Carey’s site deal, in train for the past several months and just secured by John Cleary Developments, will see a new quay and street corner/gate created, and a new bar-restaurant replacing the Sextant’s role in a section of the former rail station buildings, opening onto an internal plaza.

It was confirmed this week that the Sextant bar, which employs up to 18 full- and part-time, and which had been successfully leased out and expanded in recent years, is closing on February 16, with hopes by the lessees to reopen in another city premises.

Carey Tool Hire is to continue to trade in the medium term, until a replacement premises is secured, and the company also operates in Ballincollig, and in Ennis, Co Clare.

John Cleary of JCD Group last night expressed delight “to have reached agreement to purchase the Carey Tool Hire site which is a pivotal site between the city centre and the docklands.”

“This is a very exciting time for Cork’s progression given the large-scale projects planned and underway, including our Penrose Dock scheme which is currently under construction and will deliver 250,000 sq ft of next generation office space in April 2020. Cork has a unique opportunity now to continue to attract foreign direct investment and become a proper counterbalance to Dublin, as envisaged in the Ireland 2040 plan,” asserted Mr Cleary.

JCD say they have engaged “a very experienced design team, including an international urban design practice to masterplan this important site”.

“Part of the proposed scheme will include the relocation of the bar and restaurant use to the protected former Station House located on Albert Street and the creation of an internal public plaza.

“There will be significant investment in these protected structures to restore them to their former prominence. This investment will bring renewed vibrancy and ensure the long-term viability of these important buildings along with access to an internal public plaza that will complement the overall proposed scheme and the other developments that have transformed this area of Cork City, such as The Elysian, One Albert Quay and Navigation Square.”

Commenting on the deal and decision to sell, Ken Carey of Carey Tool Hire expressed “confidence in JCD’s ability to deliver an excellent design solution to the Albert Quay site. We have been operating from the site for the past 50 years and it will be business as usual at our present location, while suitable new premises are sourced.

“We would like to thank our customers and staff for their ongoing support as we enter this exciting new chapter in our business.”

Among the possible relocation sites for Carey Tools speculated on by market sources yesterday was one by the Kinsale Road roundabout and Kinsale Road, acquired a year ago by JCD and where a planning application for a logistics/distribution building was refused last year.

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