House of the Week: Well Road, Douglas, Cork

Knocking down and replacing isn’t anything at all new in Ireland’s house market, and especially so in rising and buoyant markets (current tail-end 2018 economic jitters notwithstanding,) all the more so again in strong, ‘bullet-proof’ locations.

House of the Week: Well Road, Douglas, Cork

Knocking down and replacing isn’t anything at all new in Ireland’s house market, and especially so in rising and buoyant markets (current tail-end 2018 economic jitters notwithstanding,) all the more so again in strong, ‘bullet-proof’ locations.

But, it’s only in a very rare case or two where not just one, but two houses, one which ‘succeeded’ another, get to bite the demolition dust.

Will that be the case, and fate, of the red brick Well Road, Douglas home called Randall, alongside the niche development Greenbanks (which is pictured below)?

Likely to date to the 1980/90s from its brick exterior and its internal layout and finishes, this four-bed detached house Randall replaced an earlier home of the same name, with the first Randall having been built in the first half of the 20th century, on a fantastic bit of ground, overlooking the Douglas estuary.

Previous owners of its first incarnation had been the Fitzgerald family, with owner Ray Fitzgerald inextricably linked with jazz in Cork since the 1940s, and who was chairman of the Cork Jazz Festival for its first 20 years.

When the Fitzgeralds downsized, new owners came to Randall. They flattened and rebuilt what’s here now, they kept the stables and the grounds, and the original Randall name plate still stands on the entrance gate pillars on the Well Road. That drive leads up a short way to this c2,200 sq ft build, on its mature 0.75 acre grounds....and it’s the latter asset which carries the price expectation into 2019.

Estate agent Timothy Sullivan is in charge of the sale of Randall Mark II; he guides at €950,000, and truth be told, this Randall’s future in the short to medium term could go any way, whether or which, going on recent trends in the locale.

This Randall might be blown away; or, it might remain, and be upgraded and get to enjoy the east side of its grounds, with glimpsed views down to the Douglas Estuary behind, and it will still have loads of ground left over even if is joined by one other house, between it and the Well Road itself?

And, then, the ‘other’, west side of the Randall’s gardens, could take a handful more of modern homes, going on the visible evidence of how many got slotted in right next door, on the Greenbanks/Green Banks site, now quite the long-running delivery project indeed.

There was, historically, even quite the planning breach and demolition saga gone on at Greenbanks, the one-time Well Road home of guitarist Rory Gallagher’s mother Monica, going back decades at this stage.

In fact, heading up to market peak, in 2005, the 1930s Greenbanks was Cork’s ‘sale of the year’ at €2.9m, bought for redevelopment with 1.1 acres when it seem the world was on an ever-upwards trajectory. After the emergence from the bust, and the dust, it was acquired around 2015 from Nama, by developer David Walsh of Rockforest Homes.

Rockforest got planning for five houses, with four selling from 2016, and one’s left unstarted on the very best site by the estuary. The four sales were from €850,000 to c €1m for the 2,600sq ft one by the entrance.

Despite the very protracted build and the advanced state of delivery, none is yet ready for occupation, even though No 2 went on the Price Register as a completed sale at €768,000 (that’s minus the Vat, and some other costs), and now another Christmas is coming around with Greenbanks homes yet to have a Christmas tree in their Donegal quartz bay window homes.

The niche scheme’s boundary wall to the Well Road is done out in costly cut limestone panels, with the name Green Bank letter in a cut script with the date 2018 cut in roman numerals, MMXVIII… hopefully, early MMXIX won’t be too far off the mark for final handover? It’s all a bit of a salutary lesson to those who’d rush in and throw cash at Randall, without having a firm plan, and robust financial underpinnings, yet all around, there’s evidence of contrasting fortunes, and ambitions.

Directly across the road from Randall’s entrance, a 1951-built detached home called Kelvin has just seen a private family buyer see off competition from a developer rival bidder, paying €805,000 for a c 1,600sq ft do-er up, on a 0.3 acres of lovely grounds, and which had launched at €795,000 in spring ‘18 via Cohalan Downing.

Just a few doors away is Bramley, an architect designed over-basement whopper built about six years ago, designed by Meitheal Architects, and one of the Well Road’s very inest homes.

But, there’s nothing at all built in the city suburbs to compare to the modern French style mansion currently being finished off in Woodview, just off the Well Road, pic below.

Visible looming over a boundary wall is the almost completed c 12,000 sq ft replacement for a 1920s built house called Curraghbeg, on 1.5 acres. Curraghbeg was sale of the year as recently as 2015, when it fetched €2.4m… and got levelled.

Clearly, this stretch of prime residential roadway between Douglas and Blackrock/Mahon has had both ups and downs, and a handful of knock-downs, but no-one is realistically expecting anything like the same extravagance at Randall, least of all estate agent Tim Sullivan, who reckons that €1.5m is now nearly the very uppermost sum any Cork home will make, bar something truly extraordinary.

VERDICT: Oops, nearly forgot to mention, Randall as it stands has three first floor bedrooms (one en suite) under its slate roof, one ground floor very large bedroom next to an accessible guest WC, big living room, utility, kitchen/diner next to a sun room, and isn’t too damn bad at all.

Will that be enough to save it, though?

Well Road, Douglas, Cork


Size: 205 sq M (2,200 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2


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