Sam Stephenson-designed tower and two other lots come to market as Central Bank relocates

The move in coming months by the Central Bank to its new €140 million offices on Dublin’s North Wall Quay has resulted in the eagerly anticipated arrival to market of the iconic Sam Stephenson-designed tower by College Green and Temple Bar, along with two other lots, all with a combined value of €80 million.

The dramatic, 83,000 sq ft ‘loathe it or love it’ tower was deeply divisive when built in the 1970s, to an innovative design, and has gone on to be one of the capital’s most filmed and photographed 20th century structures, most notably on Central Bank-related news items.

It’s open to a range of new uses and redevelopment, from lofty hotel on the edge of Temple Bar and Trinity College to revamped offices, and also has plaza/retail development scope.

As the Central Bank prepares to move staff from several locations to one centralised new building (ironically, one bought in shell state for €7m and which had been destined for the HQ for the disgraced and now defunct Anglo Irish Bank), selling agent James Nugent of Lisney is offering the Central Bank’s existing buildings cluster by College Green and forming virtually an entire city block, in three lots.

They include the elegant and slender five-storey, 5,200 sq ft No 9 College Green, likely to be worth c €2m, and Nos 6-8 College Green, a six storey office building of 23,000 sq ft at €14m.

The most valuable, at c €65m, is the main 83,000 sq ft cantilevered tower building, with 12,000 sq ft annex and adjacent Commercial Buildings with 11,000 sq ft of further office space: the latter two were also built as part of the 1970s overall Central Bank development.

The main tower, hoisted above a public plaza and entered up a wide flight of steps to signal arrival, is an assertive architectural statement that took decades for even passive public acceptance.

It now needs updating and was built using a cantilevered system from twin reinforced concrete service cores, with floors suspended from those cores by 12 external cable supports.

As portions of College Green are due for pedestrianisation, among the due diligence reports prepared by the Central Bank for the sale is an ‘indicative master plan for the buildings’ prepared by Henry J Lyons architects, showing enhancements of the under-skirt plaza area, adding amenity and retail space, and/or hotel usage.

Taking on the highly distinctive building poses challenges as well as opportunities, and while it’s not a protected structure and can be altered subject to planning permission, Lisney MD James Nugent says “it is of architectural significance and as such we’d expect Dublin City Council to be sensitive to any proposal seeking the demolition of the building.”

The Central Bank currently employs 1,400 people in five buildings across three Dublin locations, and has expressed the wish to centralise its expanding workforce under a ‘One Bank’ policy.

Last year, it also bought a Spencer Dock building it had been leasing, near its North Wall HQ which is due to be completed this November.

The North Wall Quay site/building shell was bought for €7m in 2012, and total investment in it will reach an estimated €140m.

The bank’s website notes that it is “in the very early stages of assessing the impact of using the Spencer Dock premises beyond 2016 and a comprehensive plan to operate the building in conjunction with North Wall Quay will be developed over the coming months.”

DETAILS: Lisney, 01-6382742; www.centralbankportfolio.com


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