Tommy Barker takes a short stroll from Cork city centre to visit an attractive, substantial home overlooking the Marina.
We’re a mile from Patrick’s Street, says the woman of the house, noting the absolute convenience of her all-upgraded suburban home’s setting.
We’re at 2, Ashtonville, a fully redone semi-detached home and, almost by serendipity, we’ve arrived on foot, coincidently proving the point of this home’s easy accessibility: we’re talking the city end of the Blackrock Road, just beyond Ashton school and Kennedy Park.
There are increasingly high hopes of a major new public amenity set to come on stream for this city hinterland, to serve the wider city and citizenry too, as Cork City Hall now prepares to moves on the former Showgrounds site to create a new public amenity park and green waterway. It’s set to link to the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and then further afield, along the Marina towards Blackrock, by a leafy section of the River Lee, in a total investment of as much as €20m. The area to be enhanced spans 32 hectares, or nearly 80 acres, making it over four times larger than Fitzgeralds Park further west along the Lee.
There’s talk once more, in post-crash recovery mode, of docklands residential and office park renewal on and off the Marina and quays, albeit many of the brownfield sites will need major funding, bridges and flood relief measures to get ready for mixed use development.
Whatever comes, and whenever it comes, will be in full view of the uppermost floor of No 2 Ashtonville, where an attic-level wide dormer window is like a wide-screen panorama of the south docks/’promised land,’ and the city’s northern suburbs from St Luke’s to Montenotte and further east.
Already, from this eyrie, there are glimpses of the new GAA stadium by Ballintemple, after a sporting €50m-plus reinvestment at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, so a marker of sorts has been laid down for what’s hoped to be Cork’s planned new urban quarter. Of course, such moves have been mooted for centuries, but 2040 plans may, indeed, put extra oomph in their sails.
There have, indeed, been many changes to the north of the city end of Cork’s Blackrock road, with 20th century industrialisation flowing to the likes of the Ford and Dunlops plants, along the spines of Monahan Road and Centre Park Road. But, in front of Ashtonville and some of its neighbours, there’s an untouched green lung in situ for decades, in the provincialite presence of the Society of African Missions, and its SMA parish church and extensive grounds, with a gate lodge visible just across the road from No 2 Ashtonville.
The Ashtonville address comes from the nearby presence of the original 19th century Ashton House, which now forms the core of Ashton School, which has evolved here since the 1950s and which got a dramatic new build two years ago.
So, it’s a mix of fast/slow evolution in and around early 1900s-built Ashtonville, whose owners moved here as a young couple 13 years ago. They did a major refurb about five years ago, creating a very bright and inviting ground- floor flow of rooms in particular, and now are on the move once more.
No 2 faces south, facing the Blackrock Road by a bend in the road, and has off-street parking/turning for several cars on a well-paved front garden and drive, which is also home to a well-built storage shed for bikes and motorbikes and sports gear.
It’s a three-storey, four-bed semi-d, with a sliver of side access left along and side extension and an old limestone wall, to a paved and flagged back yard, with oversight from here of a large mid-2000s-built office block’s gravelled roof beyond and beneath, on Monahan Road.
The site shape, and precise setting by a sharp fall of ground, means there’s not much green space or gardens for No 2’s occupants to work with, and now with a young family started, they want lawns to kick a ball around on, they explain as their motivation to move.
Estate agent Tim Sullivan is selling the excellent-order No 2, which he describes as highly impressive and quirky, and he enthuses about the impact of the opening up and extension of the ground floor in particular. He reckons it may well be bought as a walk-in condition trading down home, or at least for those with older children, and may also suit traders-in/relocaters... anyone, really, who doesn’t want or need rolling private lawns for disporting on.
It has been rewired from top to bottom, and has an attic room en suite with proper stair access. At its middle level are three wood-floored bedrooms, the largest to the rear, and the family bathroom’s in a return annexe, with shower over bath.
But it’s really all about the ground floor, entered via a single-storey porch into a high-ceiling living room, now double aspect with two slender gable wall windows either side of a fireplace, with gas insert.
The floor’s now in maple, and the carpeted stairs is along the party wall, indicating perhaps that the original hall has now been integrated into the living area.
Part-glazed double doors tempt further exploration, into a newly- fashioned kitchen/dining/family room, where there’s now an added-on, vaulted ceiling space with double-aspect glazed double doors, and three higher-up apex windows, as well as overhead rooflights, with the room linking to a side annexe, making for as bright a space as possible given the aspect.
There are impressive, thick marble tops on the kitchen and island, done by Kitchen Design Works, with painted units and integrated appliances, with sink and gas hob on the island. There’s particularly funky lighting in spots, too, a good match for the owners’ colourful artwork and prints, and there are several access point to the back garden/yard, including from the utility. There’s also a guest WC (with shower) which usefully can be as readily accessed from the utility as from beside the stairs by the living room.
There’s about 1,500 sq ft internally right now, excluding the attic level, all in excellent condition after fairly comprehensive makeovers by the current owners, and by the previous owners who reroofed and opened up the attic level, before putting it up for sale in 2004 with a €350,000 price tag.
The sale price back then isn’t recorded, in pre Price Register days, but the register does show a far larger semi-home, 2 Allevard, as selling in late 2016 for €870,000 via Cohalan Downing, and a sale has been agreed on 2 Clonard in between Allevard and Ashtonville, and which had an asking price of €650,000 with Savills, with the lack of ‘traditional’ gardens apparently not bothering either of those homes’ buyers.
At €450,000, and on the city side of the rapidly sold-out Botanika scheme at Cleve Hill, estate agent Tim Sullivan can expect to be busy at superbly-located 2 Ashtonville.
VERDICT: The area’s back on the cusp of major changes and investment.
Blackrock Road, Cork City
Size: 135 sq m (1,500 sq ft)
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