One of the few healthy aspects to the property market

IF the property market is in any good health at all in 2010, put it down to – well, none other than spending on health.

Depending on age profile, the nation spent much of the past decade splurging on things that probably weren’t very good for our health, things like too much alcohol, recreational drugs, gambling, gold-plated credit cards, apartments in Euroslavia and 40-year mortgages. Pick your poison.

Now, in our confessional atonement, we are preparing to re-embrace a healthier lifestyle, if at all possible, albeit on necessarily slimmed-down means.

As Mary Harney aims to cut €1 billion from the Government’s health spend, the private and voluntary sector is going the other way – in overdrive.

Cork must be one of the more extreme examples: between what being built, being planned and being argued for and against, there’s nearly a hospital bed for everyone in the audience. First up, there’s the controversial €250 million co-location Beacon Group-backed co-location hospital for the CUH campus where the new €80 million cardio-renal building is due to officially open very shortly.

Then, there’s the Sheehan Medical Group who eventually abandoned plans to build a new hospital further out in Bishopstown, and they are now driving on with their €90 million adaptation of an office building at Mahon’s City Gate development by John Cleary, a location that has scooped up some of the biggest commercial deals in Cork this year (it also landed gaming company Big Fish, and hundreds of McAfee jobs.)

Meanwhile, the long-established privately run hospital run in Cork by the Bon Secours order is moving on an € 85 million extension with car parking, on its lower grounds – recent floods there and along the Western Road notwithstanding.

Also on Cork’s Western Road, developer Owen O’Callaghan is to submit amended designs for a €80m private hospital in lieu of planned apartments at Lancaster Gate, part of the old Jurys Hotel site. Owen O’Callaghan is in talks with Swiss operators La Tour Réseau de Soins.

Rising steadily up in its construction stage is Marymount Hospital and Hospice, with a €55m investment in Curraheen due to open in 2011, and with plans to sell its current property at St Patrick’s, St Luke’s Cross afterwards.

Over at the Elysian, the Euromedic diagnostic group (with four other centres nationally, some in conjunction with the HSE) has spent €5m equipping its 14,000 sq ft suite of scanners, etc.

The Elysian has been touted for other possible medical centres/uses, and among the groups still reportedly currently looking to locate in Cork are the Waterford-based Whitfield Centre/Eurocare International.

Between existing hospitals seeking to hold their ground, and the plethora of new pretenders lining up for a skirmish, blood will surely be spilt.

If there’s an upside, it will be that doctors and other medical workers relocating to Cork – and needing homes – will once again prop up the residential market.


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