‘Castle’ landlord anyone?

ZONED land bought for €21m in 2004, at the height of the boom when Munster developer John Barry of Castlelands Construction was building up to 700 houses a year, has eventually come back to market for just 7% of that peak value, €1.5 million.

‘Castle’ landlord anyone?

By Tommy Barker

ZONED land bought for €21m in 2004, at the height of the boom when Munster developer John Barry of Castlelands Construction was building up to 700 houses a year, has eventually come back to market for just 7% of that peak value, €1.5 million.

Listed with agent Michael O’Donovan of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan is 52 acres of riverside fronting lands just west of Mallow, 1.5kms west of the ‘Munster crossroads’ town, and looking over the Blackwater and adjacent racecourse.

The guide price equates to €30,000 per acre, or about double that of good, equivalent agricultural land. Its zoning, in the 2007 development plan, was for medium density housing, and is one of a number of sites acquired by local man John Barry who started his Castlelands empire just on the other side of Mallow.

The 2004 €21m purchase was at a time of spree spending, with other reports of a €40m purchase of 180 acres at St Joseph’s Road (since sold on), while the firm also acquired lands and built in Cork’s Carrigaline, at Baneshane, Midleton and Whitechurch, among other locations.

In a tale of the times, and of timing, by the start of 2007, Castlelands had been associated with deals worth €500m, spanning over 850 acres, in Cork’s Douglas/Carrigaline area alone, including much-debated plans to purchase and relocate Douglas Golf Club, in a €170 million deal: it was a bigger version of a land-swap Mr Barry did successfully with Mallow GAA club who got some of the country’s best sports facilities into the bargain.

Around the same period, Castlelands was negotiating for up to 200 further acres for c €90 million in the Cork’s Bishopstown/Togher hinterland, while a €1bn development was planned for London’s docklands for 650 high-rise apartments. Sites in France and Croatia were also eyed by the Augusta-helicopter flying Mr Barry, who’d built a 10,000 sq ft private house, Parklands, on 30 acres with swimming pool, tennis court and forestry in 2003.

Creditors petitioned to have Castlelands wound up in 2011, and Mr Barry declared for bankruptcy in the UK in 2015.

The family home Parklands turned up on the Price Register in 2016 at a reported €1.16m, bought by a local business family, reflecting just the value of the mansion on an acre (the value of balance of that land isn’t recorded), while much of Castlelands enormous landbank has since been sold off by Nama, often at agricultural values.

Property sources say this latest market offer of 52 acres on the edge of Mallow has good development potential in the short to mid-term as house prices in outlying county towns come back to construction viability levels (Midleton’s already there, including on former Castleland sites.) This Mallow location is at Annabella, Navigation Road along the main N72 Killarney road, and a kilometre from the N20 Cork/Limerick roundabout.

Meanwhile, this medium density zone land in a significant commuter town comes as the historic period home, Lotabeg House, on 36 acres in Tivoli, comes to market this week, with seven acres zoned and a further 11.5 acres within the city development boundary. It’s listed with agents ERA Downey McCarthy in Cork, and Goffs, and is offered in three lots with combined value of €7 million: see lead story p17.

Also, last week the former 11.5 acre city docklands site of the stalled Howard Holdings Atlantic Quarter site came to market, guiding €8.5 million via CBRE.

It’s right next door to the redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium (might the GAA have a strategic interest in buying?) as well as close to a 3.1 acre site being sold by Cushman & Wakefield for €1m-plus an acre for Doyle Shipping Group, and to the larger adjacent Tedcastle site, with developers the Comer brothers having been linked loosely in property circles to as-yet unsigned deals on these key docklands campus assets.

Details Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan 022-42651

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