Plea to Nama ‘not to just look at bottom line’ on Passage West

Cork County Council has been asked to contact Nama to request that the local authority is kept informed about any property sales in the docklands area in Cork Harbour.

Councillors specifically referred to dockland sites in the town of Passage West, saying many of the undeveloped sites there are of strategic importance to the region. On one particular site there, a €200m redevelopment had been proposed.

However, one of the Beach Road sites which receiver KPMG is managing, has been on the market for several months.

Formerly owned by Howard Holdings, the near-eight acre site with frontage on Dock Rd with office amenities and includes six period residential properties overlooking the harbour.

It has been on the market for 14 weeks and is currently at “sale agreed”.

Sinn Féin councillor Donnchadh O’Laoighaire said it was vital the local authority was kept up to speed with any potential plans for the site.

He recalled a “landmark development” which was to include a 150-bed hotel, ultra-modern marina, and 300 residential units had been earmarked for the dockland area prior to the recession biting.

He said it would have been a significant boost for Passage West if the project had materialised, re-introducing a new dynamic to the middle of the old port town as well as creating employment and aesthetically enhancing the area.

“Passage West is a town with enormous potential, but it needs the right investment and development to allow that to happen,” he said.

“I am appealing to Nama not just to look at the bottom line, but to take cognisance of the social impact of any plans which potential purchasers may have for the site, and to engage with Cork County Council, and with public representatives, so that we may ensure that this crucial site is put to the best possible use for the town.”

He won unanimous support to contact Nama by colleagues on the county council’s Ballincollig/Carrigaline municipal district which oversees Passage West.

Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath agreed it was a strategically important site and the council should have some forewarning about any potential redevelopment, so it could put plans in place to maximise its potential.

Independent councillor Joe Harris pointed out Nama ’s remit “was to get the best return for the Irish taxpayer” and a case could surely be made that any forthcoming project which had the co-operation and forward planning of the county council would be value for money into the future.

Senior council officials said they were conscious of “the significance” of the Passage West site and would write to Nama about it.

Meanwhile, with Savills handling the sale, the six vacant residential properties range from 1,000 sq ft to 1,250 sq ft. They are in need of some repair.


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