Anglo HQ building owners seek to swap loans for lattes

The Dublin headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank may swap loans for lattes under a plan to turn the epicentre of Ireland’s financial crisis into a café.

The concrete and brick-faced office overlooking St Stephen’s Green has been the site of angry demonstrations against irresponsible lenders and a government rescue of the bank that cost every Irish man, woman and child more than €6,500.

Building owner Irish Life has applied to convert the ground floor into a coffee shop, according to a filing to city authorities.

“We could have a lot of fun thinking of different names for the coffees,” Bobby Kerr, chairman of Insomnia, a coffee chain with over 60 stores across Ireland. “I’d ask how much is the rent and can I make a bid on it,” if permission is granted.

The offices have long been regarded as a symbol of a financial meltdown that led to a €67.5bn international bailout for Ireland. The bank’s signs were taken down in April 2011 and the silvery lettering is now on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Anglo Irish, renamed the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation, left the 3,493 square foot (324 sq m) space last year, according to the company. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in 2010 called the ill-fated lender the worst bank in the world as spiralling loan losses led to a €30bn bailout.

“Hopefully it doesn’t make the coffee too bitter,” Simon Kelly, a developer and author of Breakfast with Anglo, said. Kelly and his family borrowed about €800m from the bank before it collapsed, he said by telephone. They have since lost control of many of the assets that secured the loans.

Anglo Irish was planning to lease a new headquarters when it collapsed in 2009. The unfinished concrete skeleton in the city’s north docks, bought by the Central Bank last year, is another widely known symbol of Ireland’s financial crisis.

Landlord Stephen Court Ltd., a unit of Irish Life, told planners in December that it wants to turn the space into a coffee shop.

— Bloomberg

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