PROUDLY decked out in green, and set in the tiers of stacked housing rising up above the River Lee in Cork’s Tivoli, is Villa Franca.
But, being decked out in a patriotic shade of green isn’t just for St Patrick’s Day; it’s been one of the various 40 shades for decades and it’s a sturdy colour choice that makes this one-off, detached family home stand out still from its neighbours, especially when seen from the leafy arbour of the city’s Marina.
Immediately identifiable both for its assertive colour choice and its setting, Villa Franca is in full view (see picture on Page One) from the Marina, Atlantic Pond, and especially from the new south stadium at the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh, whence the sounds of one Ed Sheeran are due to waft and echo out to the ‘free seats’ up here on this south-facing Tivoli hillside, come May.
Villa Franca last back sold back in 2002, and it’s now back on the market as it’s moving-on, trading-down time. Back then, it was priced at €635,000 but the eventual sale price isn’t public knowledge as it was back before the Property Price Register.
Back in 2002, and in fact for most of that decade, major concerts appeared off the radar at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (though the Live at the Marquee has kept the rock flag flying,) with a sort of gig lacuna at the GAA’s sports stadium from 1996 (Oasis) to 2013, when Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band bossed the park.
Among the many greats who have performed here are U2, Michael Jackson, Prince, Kyle Minogue, and Christy Moore. Curiously, one-man band Ed Sheeran will get multiples of any and all of those acts’ ticket sales when he loops the loop here in two months’ time. Over the decades, a mid 1900s house of the stature of Villa Franca will have seen, and heard, many other changes too, spanning river and port activity, bulky goods marine traffic, the arrival of Tall Ships, and the lower-key movement of rowing boats, from sculls to eights, and including currachs and kayaks.
With its decks and tiered gardens, and even split level of sorts inside with lots of windows (at least a dozen window/door openings to the south and sun),Villa Franca’s a perfect viewing perch for all of this.
What else might it witness in coming decades, as a new wave of development ambitiously picks its way downriver from Cork city’s island, and with Tivoli docks also due in the spotlight in coming years?
One thing at least, with its precise setting on a hill slope, it means its southerly views won’t ever be obstructed, though they might evolve, and right now, the man doing the more immediate viewing and surveying is estate agent Anthony O’Regan, of Keane Mahony Smith as he launches Villa Franca to a public market.
Guiding at €700,000 plus, he says it’s got a perfect aspect and great location, and whilst it didn’t get a Celtic Tiger times makeover or extension the current owners did convert the attic into one very spacious bedroom/games rooms suite, about 38’ long, with a top floor bathroom.
This gives the wide, yet quite slender home up to six bedrooms in all, plus three reception rooms, one a living dining room that’s 28’ wide, with garden/deck access.
Villa Franca’s in overall good condition, but now could do with a further spend and investment, and has kept many original features, plus 9’ 6” ceiling heights, and is on about one-third of an acre of sloping/tiered grounds.
Set in a triangle between the start of the residential Tivoli Estate and at the east end of Lovers Walk, it has a garage with up and over door at the lower end of the gardens, plus a pedestrian access, and has parking and further access in off Tivoli Estate. A recent sale nearby was Dun Rua, Woodhill Park, making €670,000 a year ago, while top prices for the varied homes in and around Tivoli Estate have ranged from €600k to €825k, and an acre site above them all is due to come to market shortly, guiding €400,000.
VERDICT: With the likes of Ed Sheeran and future acts gigging over the water, and guests and friends likely to casually drop by for such big occasions “sure, a buyer would get his or her money back in no time,” quips KMS’s Anthony O’Regan.
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