New Cork offices have housing solution

Companies considering locating in Cork may be lured by favourable terms to accommodate staff in a new, purpose-delivered, build-to-let apartment investment, as part of a proposed, mixed-used city centre project at Horgan’s Quay.

New Cork offices have housing solution

The scheme, to be promoted by Clarendon Properties and BAM and with a design team now appointed (see below), will be worth well in excess of €100m; it will include 200 apartments, 4,000 sq meters of offices, plus an hotel on six acres, by the new, city-end entrance being created at Horgan’s Quay/Kent Railway Station.

The mix of apartments and offices may appeal, as FDI companies locating to Irish cities, such as Cork, Galway and Dublin, have all cited concerns over existing shortages of suitable accommodation for employees.

Such shortages have been highlighted over the past year in Cork City by a number of employers, and by the IDA. With Ireland being touted as a possible location for multinationals seeking a base in the EU, especially post-Brexit, the shortage is likely to be exacerbated.

Already, companies bringing new workers and jobs to Ireland are competing with other stakeholders in an acute housing shortage, and against a background of escalating rents.

This shortage of affordable quality accommodation already prompted one leading Irish developer, John Cleary, of John Cleary Developments (JCD) , to seek to alter zoning on a site he controls at Mahon, to include an apartment element, along with new, high-grade Gold LEED office scheme at an €80m development site, called City Gate Plaza.

However, Cork City councillors last week signalled their reluctance to approve necessary zoning changes, citing traffic congestion at Mahon, where full planning already exists for 280,000 sq ft of grade A offices. JCD had proposed a reduction in office quantum at City Gate Plaza to accommodate 220 apartments for staff working in the area.

Right in the heart of Cork City, meanwhile, Horgan’s Quay has long been identified as a truly prime development site, for a range of uses: some 21 years ago, developer Owen O’Callaghan proposed a science-and-technology employment park there on three, quay-fronting acres, and later Mahon Park Homes proposed a €700m boom-time development on a far larger site, to include 1,200 apartments, and a conference centre.

During the summer, CIE agreed development terms, via a tender process by agents, Lisney, for the 6.1 acres, with Clarendon Properties and BAM, on a 300-year lease, in return for an annual rental income share.

Now, a broad-based design team has been appointed by Clarendon Properties and BAM, who have a 50:50 share of the development.

According to well-informed sources, planning permission is likely to be sought in the first half of 2017 for the mixed-use zoned development, which will be split into office, residential, and leisure uses. Cork firm, Wilson Architecture, will handle the hotel design, O’Mahony Pike, with offices in Cork, Dublin, and London, will do the master planning and office component, and Reddy Architects will do the apartment/residential sections.

Also planned by other developers, within the riverside vicinity, are offices at Anderson’s Quay and Albert Quay (by O’Callaghan Properties), just east of JCD’s One Albert Quay, and redevelopment of the Port of Cork site, currently for sale for €7m.

However, few, if any sites have been earmarked for residential/apartment development.

Sources close to BAM/Clarendon said: “As Horgan’s Quay is a pivotal site in unlocking the future development of the quays’ area of Cork, a mixed-use development approach has been adopted.

“In order to leverage and attract multinationals and FDI’s to consider Cork as a location, the provision of high-quality residential accommodation is key.

“For the Horgan’s Quay development, in excess of 200 apartments (build-to-rent) are planned, which it is envisaged will provide accommodation to those occupying, or taking up, office space, and the site has the potential to accommodate in excess of 4,000 sq m of offices.”

And, he added, “the Horgan’s Quay development will aim to link the re-invigorated McCurtain Street with Kent station, as well as making the rail station more accessible from the river.”

Kent rail station currently handles 2m passengers a year; close by is the city’s bus station, making the setting an important infrastructural hub.

The site at Horgan’s Quay/Railway Street includes protected structures and may accommodate building heights of four to six storeys, while seven storeys may be allowed, fronting the quays.

Joint developer, BAM has delivered much of Cork City’s and suburban Mahon’s latest office schemes, including One Albert Quay and City Gate, for JCD, and is also completing the former Capitol cinema site for retail and offices, with keen FDI office uptake indicated already prior to completion.

Clarendon Properties operates in Ireland, the UK, and across Europe and in the US. In Cork, it controls the Wilton Shopping Centre, the Savoy (where it has embarked on a discreet, site reassembly), Queen’s Old Castle, and Courthouse Chambers, while related Clarendon companies have acquired Cork residential sites, including one from Eir, in Ballintemple, also via Lisney.

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