The boss of RTÉ has said funds raised from selling almost nine acres of its Montrose land to Cairn Homes for €107.5m will be invested in improving the public broadcaster’s services as well as reducing debt.
Branded as Project Montrose, Savills said the 8.64-acre site alongside RTÉ’s broadcasting headquarters in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 would allow Cairn to develop a housing scheme of up to 500 apartments and houses.
RTÉ put the Montrose site up for sale in March. The complex represents 25% of its 32-acre campus. The sale announced yesterday far succeeds the initial guide price of €75m in March.
Cairn has said it will build 500 apartments and nine houses on the land, with chief executive Michael Stanley saying he believed it to be “Dublin’s most attractive residential development site”. The firm is also involved in major apartment developments at Rathgar and Hanover Quay in Dublin city centre.
RTÉ director general Dee Forbes said the organisation was “playing catch-up” in the industry and needed to make major upgrades to stay competitive.
“Our decision to sell this land was driven by the fact that, since 2008, RTÉ has been operating with vastly reduced commercial and licence fee income, approximately €100m annually,” said Ms Forbes. “As a result, we have been under-investing in the organisation for almost a decade, a situation that is unsustainable.
“The funds raised will now be invested in capital projects, including much-needed technology upgrades and key digital infrastructure, and in making important changes to our organisational structure, essential workplace improvements, and reducing debt levels.”
RTÉ said it would cut 200 or more jobs in restructuring when it announced its intention to sell the Montrose site in March. It is thought that the current position remains the same as in March and that it will seek the 200-plus redundancies voluntarily.
“RTÉ is playing catch-up in an industry and market that is evolving rapidly, as Irish audiences embrace new technologies which are influencing how and when they consume content, including RTÉ content,” said Ms Forbes. “The investment which has been enabled by this land sale, along with further restructuring of the organisation, will allow us to better serve the needs of our audiences,” she said.
Colin Sheridan at Davy said it was always expected that the sale would exceed €75m.
“Demand for the site has been significant given its potential,” he said. “The Montrose site gives Cairn Homes exposure to the top end/apartment part of the Dublin residential market.”
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