Mahon maximises potential

A NEW residential location is just coming up on the radar screen for far-seeing Cork house buyers Jacob's Island.

Over 430 homes are to be built at Jacob's Island, on the tip of Mahon Point peninsula, at the city's boundary and with the tidal estuary beyond Douglas separating it from Rochestown.

And, in a bullish forecast, Trish Stokes, new home manager with Sherry FitzGerald, who is to release the first homes shortly, asserts:

"These houses and apartments will be the fastest appreciating homes in any residential development in Cork."

She stakes that claim on the fact the location is as yet unproven, but will soon become hugely sought-after.

The first units will be going on sale before the main elements of the 500 million mixed Mahon Point scheme are completed, due by 2005.

Once the major integrated project, combining Debenhams, Tesco, dozens of other retailers, a DIY superstore, offices, 150-bed hotel, National Trade Centre and business park, plus a park and ride, fall into place, the area is set to soar in profile and prestige.

The location, once at the edge of the city's bounds, has become prime, right alongside the pivotal south ring road network, less than a mile from Douglas and the Jack Lynch tunnel.

Behind the scheme are McCarthy Developments, headed up by Tom McCarthy senior, who says he knew this wooded waterside land since he walked the fields as a child, and who made his first efforts to get a development here 15 years ago.

He and his son Tom McCarthy Junior linked up four years ago with Owen O'Callaghan in a successful €50 million joint bid to buy 112 acres of land from Cork Corporation for what will be one of the very largest integrated developments outside of Dublin.

While O'Callaghan Properties are doing the commercial end of the Mahon Point scheme, McCarthys are to deliver the residential component and have just started site works.

The first houses are expected to be built within a year, on a 40-acre landbank section between the ring road and the river, well set back from previous housing and developments in the Mahon/Blackrock area.

The area has already seen several significant projects such as the National Software Centre and Project Management's new €11 million offices come on stream, giving a new edge to the area with buildings of a high architectural quality.

About 18 acres is being set aside for amenity space by the waterfront and is part of a ribbon of riverside walks between Blackrock, Mahon, Rochestown and on down river to Passage West and Monkstown.

McCarthy Developments have already made a strong impact in the vicinity, and are currently finishing out the first phase of about 80 apartments at Harty's Quay just across the water in Rochestown, with planning coming through for a second similar phase.

Designed by Dublin-based Project Architects, Harty's Quay is one of the most accomplished and better finished schemes in the south and has sold very strongly with Sherry FitzGerald, with a small number of 1,000 sq ft two-bed units left at €315,000 each.

Across at Jacob's Island, prices for the mixed residential scheme will range from €200,0000 for a 690 sq ft garden level two-bed to around €600,000 for five-bed detached homes of 2,200 sq ft, with galleried halls and part-stone finishes, says Trish Stokes.

Over one-third of the units, 156 of the 431 total, will be apartments, similar in style to Harty's Quay but taller, and again Project Architects are the designers and builders will be Ridge Developments.

"Harty's Quay is a very good yardstick for what will be delivered at Jacob's Island," says Ms Stokes.

The site is south-facing, with very mature trees, overlooking the water towards the shoulder of hills making up Rochestown's bulk and housing mass, while to the north the emerging steel frames of Debenham's and Mahon Point give a foretaste of what this area is to become.

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