Plans to build the country’s tallest commercial building have been unveiled, as Nama seeks to kickstart construction on a recession-halted development site.
The Exo, an office block, is proposed for the landmark Point Village site, formerly owned by debt-ridden businessman Harry Crosbie, in Dublin’s docklands, and would provide 224,500sq ft (20,800sq m) of space and accommodate 2,000 workers.
At 73m high, its roof would rise a few metres above its nearest rival, The Elysian apartment block in Cork City, although The Elysian’s spire brings it up to 81m.
The Exo’s name reflects its distinctive design, says Roland O’Connell, of Savills Ireland, which is the joint letting agent for the development.
“It’s short for exoskeleton. The architect chose it because the building is designed with an external metal frame around it, like the exoskeleton on a spider,” said Mr O’Connell.
“It’s a very striking design. It will be a very dramatic building that will work very well on that site and will stand the test of time.”
The site is the last large plot of land in the Point Village development, which was created by Harry Crosbie. He helped to spearhead the transformation of the docklands when he built The Point venue, now the 3 Arena, in the 1980s.
Mr Crosbie added a hotel and cinema and had further, ambitious plans for the area, including a shopping centre, but they ground to a halt during the recession and Nama stepped in two and a half years ago, appointing receivers Grant Thornton to manage the assets.
Work is under way on the shopping centre, which is due to open early next year, and there are also plans for a landmark glasshouse restaurant and some small mixed-use developments.
The Point Village
However, Savills says there is demand for 2.9m square feet more office space in Dublin and says The Exo proposal is timely, with new bridges over the Liffey, and the Luas crosstown project providing excellent transport links.
“The Point Village has had a significant increase in footfall over the past 18 months. As a result, numerous high-profile office occupiers and retailers have been enquiring about accommodation there,” Mr O’Connell said.
A planning application, funded by Nama, will be lodged with Dublin City Council today, under the terms of the Dockland’s Strategic Development Zone, so approval is expected in just eight weeks, if modifications are not required.
The receivers will then have to secure funding for construction, possibly through external investors or developers, although it is thought likely Nama will retain its interest until the building is complete, rather than sell the site with planning permission and risk it falling idle again.
Construction is expected to take two years, with 350 jobs on site during the building phase, and the overall cost is put at €80m.
The building is designed for flexible division and is likely to be let to a number of tenants, taking up single, multiple or partial floors.
Brendan McDonagh, chief executive of Nama, said that the site was just part of an extensive land bank the agency was involved in within the Strategic Development Zone, and he said it was working closely with the council to bring it into productive use.
“We look forward to supporting further, significant planning and development projects within the SDZ over the remainder of this year and into 2016,” he said.
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