Fresh to market today is the long-anticipated launch of the former Ford Distribution depot on Cork’s Centre Park Road, in the south city docklands renewal quarter.
Comprising 11.35 acres, and used most recently to host the Live at the Marquee summer concerts, it’s guided at €8.5m by selling agents CBRE in Dublin and Cork, acting for Nama and receivers KPMG.
Heralding hopes of a “Docklands Mark 2” expansion of Cork City’s population, it last sold back in the mid-2000s, when acquired by the now defunct Howard Holdings for a reported €35m.
Plans were then unveiled in 2009 — as the Celtic Tiger high tide and high times evaporated — for the €1bn Atlantic Quarter project, to include three tall apartment towers of 10, 20, and 27 floors, as well as 350,000sq ft of offices, retail, and 5,000-seat event centre.
The Design was by Scott Tallon Walker, who had done the €100m City Quarter scheme for Howard Holdings along with leading world architectural practice Norman Foster + Partners and full planning was granted for a 10-year period, which is due to expire in 2019.
However, while those plans envisaged 560 apartments, mainly in the tall towers, such ambitious building heights are unlikely to be considered again for this location.
A new South Dock LAP is due from City Hall this summer, and the most recent zonings indicate preferred heights of seven to nine storeys, suitable for uses such as apartments, offices, technology, hotel, third-level educational, hospital, and cultural investments.
The Ford Distribution site is close to the revamped €45m Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium and the new Marina Park, a public amenity next to the stadium and Monahan Road, currently being developed by Cork City Council.
It’s also close to where plans have been drawn up for a new Eastern Gateway Bridge linking the road network by Tivoli to the south docks at Centre Park Road/the Marina.
Even closer to the river Lee is the equally valuable Tedcastle site, which market rumours earlier this year linked to the Galway-born developers and investors the Comer brothers, but reliable sources indicate it has not yet been sold.
This open market offer of the Ford plot is one of two Dork south docks sites granted Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) approval under the Rebuilding Ireland programme with a €15.5m allocation to facilitate 700 residential units on the two approved sites.
A previous 2008 LAP assessed that the South Docks’ overall 300 acres was capable of supporting 20,000 workers and a 25,000-resident population, notes CBRE’s Denis O’Donoghue.
The CBRE agent says they expect “considerable domestic and international developer interest in the site as it represents an opportunity of scale in a city that is set to transform over the next 20 years under a Government-led agenda”.
“While Dublin represents a mature market Cork is just starting on its journey to becoming a true second city and now has all the ingredients required in terms of government support, new planning guidelines, occupier demand, capital and business confidence to deliver its docklands vision,” the selling agents said.