High-octane Cork apartment site

A PEARL of a riverside Cork site, between the gates of UCC and the city centre, is for sale for €2.5m.

High-octane Cork apartment site

The former Muskerry filling station, on Western Road, was sold by Esso ten years ago, for between €5-6m, envisaged for upmarket apartments by its investor/developer purchasers, named back in 2006 as Eddie Kenneally, Paul Montgomery and Michael Cunningham.

It has full planning for 50 apartments, in two, five-storey blocks: plans for a filling station on the site were recently turned down as not being of sufficient scale and quality of use for such a profile setting: the adjacent River Lee Hotel had objected to the plans. The hotel is just across the river bend from this 0.8-acre site, where the bases of a bridge for the old Muskerry tram can still be seen in the river channel.

Selling agents now for the Muskerry/Western Road site are Peter O’Flynn and Eoin Ryan, of DTZ Sherry FitzGerald, who say it is “likely to attract interest from a range of market sectors, including local, national and international developers.” They can also expect UCC to be interested in the site, for any of a wide variety of college-related uses, from student apartments to a stand-alone ‘calling card’ site as an early introduction to the college campus. UCC previously occupied a former institutional building in the immediate vicinity, including the old Pres school (and ‘new’ Granary Theatre), as well as the eye, ear and throat hospital.

In 2014 and early 2015, UCC bought up purpose-built student accommodation at Victoria Cross, acquiring 400 beds at the Victoria Mills complex, for €20m, in an off-market swoop. Now, this fresh offer on Western Road, between Mardyke Street and Donovan’s Road, is deemed prime for redevelopment and may even be one of the first new apartment sites to be commenced for years in the city centre. A spur to developers would be the strong prices on the most recent sale of apartments, built by O’Callaghan Properties at the highly-regarded Lancaster Gate development on the other side of the River Lee Hotel, now back once more in former Jurys’ Doyle-family ownership after a €25m sale two year ago. O’Callaghan Properties still has an undeveloped portion of the old Jurys site, also.

Zoning under the new Cork City Development Plan is for residential, local services and institutional uses, and planning permission for 50 units (one to four beds, over-basement car-parking) has been extended to 2018.

According to DTZ’s Eoin Ryan, recent high-profile sales of completed apartment blocks at Harty’s Quay and Temple Grove “show there’s a strong demand for well-located, multi-family blocks in Cork City. There was a wide range of investor profiles looking at these assets, from local high net-worth investors to national investment vehicles, including the REITS, to international investment funds who have traditionally restricted themselves to the Dublin market, but are now looking at Cork and other regional locations, if they see quality.” DTZ say the strength of individual apartment sales at Lancaster Gate, and the River Lee Hotel’s bankability appeal, help investors “to understand the quality of the location, and likely individual capital and rental values of apartments, based on some recent activity in Lancaster Gate.”

As confirmation is still awaited as to who is acquiring the Cleve Hill/Blackrock Road Cork site for upmarket houses, DTZ’s MD Peter O’Flynn says “there is currently strong demand for well-located residential development sites in Cork; we have little doubt that this property will generate strong interest.”

* DETAILS: DTZ Sherry FitzGerald 021-4275454

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