New lease of life

BLACKPOOL in Cork is one the most successful urban renewal schemes in the country its fortunes have been reversed, and the pace of change continues.

The changes begin at the Christy Ring Bridge with new apartments, and continue all the way out to the Pole Field and the €100 million new Blackpool Shopping Centre with retail park, cinema, offices and multi-storey car parking.

The large scale and socially corrosive dereliction which took hold since the mid-1900s is now being eaten into with gusto by a range of new developments, many of them residential, and in the bulk of a number of schemes the architectural input is high, auguring well for future generations.

What is the largest single residential development to date, Seana Mhuileann (Old Mill), is launched for sale next week, with 135 new apartments and 14 commercial units.

The city’s planners allowed the height (up to eight storeys) and density (the site is three acres) on the proviso a landmark building was developed, and main curved structure fits that demand.

Building quality is very high, with finishes that will weather well, along with underground car parking, raised courtyard, roof gardens, individual balconies with each apartment and over 300,000 red Tyrone bricks used in the first two and largest blocks alone, as well as curved limestone facade and some granite at street level.

Location is Ladyswell, on a part of a large land holding acquired by developer Fran Sheahan and Joe Carey 26 years ago and which will be further developed.

The site was once a distillery, from the 1780s, and an adjoining large stone building in business units is to be refurbished shortly.

The length of time Joe Carey and Frank Sheahan owned the land means site costs were remarkably low, yielding an almost unequalled 99.5% capital allowances for investors in the Section 23 scheme.

Such a high level of tax relief for purchasers is handy here, as sales prices for the 69 almost completed units are pitched high: prices will be around €260,000 for a large 660 sq ft one bed unit, €335,000 for a two-bed of 750 sq ft, and up to €450,000 for a large three-bed of 1,050 sq ft.

Tax relief will be available for investors from 2004, and selling agents are Joey Sheahan of F&V Sheahan and Ger O’Callagahan of Remax. The two agencies will also handle the fully-furnished apartment lettings.

In contrast, two-bed units around Camden Quay in other developments are selling for around €320,000, with 600 sq ft of space, and lower S 23 reliefs.

Design of Seana Mhuilean is by Eddie Keating Architects, who reprise their brick and limestone finishes used in the award-wining East Douglas Village scheme, and construction is to a high level by P J Hegartys who have been on site for well over a year.

The two largest blocks of five are almost completed construction, and features include basement car parking for c 60 vehicles (no prices are yet decided for the spaces) balconies, bedrooms set back from the road with living areas looking west over the road, a number of lift access points, a raised communal courtyard garden and rooftop gardens.

Three further smaller blocks will complete the Seana Mhuileann development, which will have 14 commercial units available to buy.

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