A new chapter

GO a mile off Cork’s city’s ring road network at Rochestown, and home hunters may find a scheme where the developers have gone the extra mile.

The standard of fit-out, finish and specification continues to rise in new developments across the country, with the just launched Estuary Court and Mews a clear case in point - though the downside for buyers is that the product isn’t cheap.

This niche scheme of 27 apartments and 10 townhouses, on the grounds of the old Norwood Court Hotel/Havisham House Hotel, has prices starting from €290,000 for a two-bed ground floor apartments of 824 sq ft, rising to the mid €330,000 and €340,000 for 875 sq ft units with bay windows, and up to €415,000 €415,000 for a penthouse of 1,011 sq ft - with a portion of this square footage given over to a third floor outdoor balcony area.

Selling agents are CB Hamilton Osborne King, and auctioneer Peter Cave says the original 1740-built house (originally known as Alta House, and once stayed in by Charles Dickens, who used a locally-acquired wedding tale in Great Expectations) will have four extremely high quality apartments as a last phase of development. Prices for these units, benefiting from high ceilings and period appeal, will have a cachet premium.

The Rochestown development, by Howard Holdings who are also engaged in several major commercial property projects in Cork city centre including a €100 million office/200-bed hotel scheme on Lapp’s Quay opposite City Hall, also has 10 1,350 sq ft townhouses from €390,000 each, all fitted to a high standard.

What’s new here are features like zoned (individually controlled) underfloor gas fuelled central heating - gas just hit apartment schemes in Cork in the last 18 months, and this is the first scheme to have the heating underfloor as well. Showers have plenty of oomph, thanks to the pressurised water system, and bathrooms have electric heated towel rails.

Also new here are the very high quality Canadian Lowen windows, with a cedar finish internally and powder coated aluminium finishes outside for minimum maintenance.

Bathrooms and ensuites have fully tiled walls and limestone floors - think up-market hotel standard - floors elsewhere are semi-solid single plank oak or wool carpets, lighting is recessed and low-voltage, on dimmers, and electrical switches and sockets are also a cut above standard.

Kitchens are Italian, Meson brand, with built-in Neff appliances, and living areas are largely open plan, with all apartments having a dual aspect - views of the estuary to the front, and south-facing light streaming in at the back.

External design is on the conservative/classical side, in contrast to the larger Rochestown apartment scheme Harty’s Quay where the waterfront blocks are contemporary (prices at Harty’s Quay are from €220,000 for a one-bed, through €295,000 to €370,000 for two-beds.)

Like Harty’s Quay, Estuary Court and Mews is going to have a heavy through-put of traffic at show-unit openings today and tomorrow (3pm-5pm) with lots of viewers coming for an interior design nose around and to gather a few decorating ideas.

Given its hillside setting, Estuary Court (the 27 apartments) and Mews (10 townhouses) have a great sweep of the estuary beneath, and the higher up you go the better the views become.

Right now, glimpses of the retail end of the €500 million Mahon Point scheme can be had, and in a few years time the view across towards the Mahon Peninsula will be a blaze of lights as work is due to start shortly on the residential end of that mixed-use scheme.

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