High calibre Cork City apartments like The Sherkin, Lancaster Gate are a rare find

Apartments of this high calibre are rare within the confines of Cork City, writes Trish Dromey

SPACIOUS, stylish, high-end, high-spec apartments like No 11, The Sherkin, at Lancaster Gate on the Western Road are not widely available for purchase in Cork city centre.

Newly arrived on the market with a guide of €625,000, it’s just become the second most expensive apartment in the city centre area. The first is the penthouse at No 19, three floors above it, which is selling at €725,000.

Trevor O’Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Carlton Estate believes that for €625,000 this three bed 1,924 sq ft property offers excellent value for money. “It’s the type of property which is in demand for corporate rentals, by companies like Apple, EMC and VMware. You could rent it for €2,500 a month.”

It could, he says, also be bought by a young professional looking for a high-end, city centre lifestyle.

“The apartments at Opera Lane and the Elysian are all rental properties, very few apartments of this type are available to buy,” he says, noting that one of the few which did come on the market in recent times was No 64, The Fastnet, another Lancaster Gate apartment, which sold for €760,000 in April last year.

The Sherkin, triangular, highly glazed and distinctive, is one of three apartment building in the development ( all called after Irish Islands) which was built in 2007 at the tail end of the boom by O’Callaghan builders to provide the type of high end apartment living the city lacked.

Designed by Henry J Lyons architects to offer, not just living space, but a whole lifestyle, it was fitted out to impress. Standard features included a designer high gloss kitchen with granite worktops, private balconies, solid timber flooring and high-spec bathrooms.

When the owner of No 11 bought his third floor property in 2009, the triangular shaped apartment — with its more than 50ft long balcony — was high-spec and new, but was also a white walled, empty space which presented him with a decorative challenge.

He says that for him the main appeal of the property was its location. An entrepreneur involved in the beauty business, he’d passed the building many times on his way to UCC when it was under construction, and always though he’d like to live there. Seizing the opportunity when it came his way, he says he loves the centrality of being within a five minute walk from Patrick Street. He also loves the lifestyle it provides.

“The River Lee hotel next to the apartment building is great for meetings, there’s a gym with discount membership for apartment owners and it’s really convenient to have bars and restaurants nearby. It’s great that you don’t have to go out in the rain to get to your car, you can just can take the lift down to the car park in the basement.”

Over the last eight years he’s met the decorative challenge presented by the white walls and given the apartment a style to match its high glazed modernity. Making effective use of many shades of Farrow & Ball grey, he found inspiration for unconventional features in unusual places and introduced colour with some striking pieces of artwork and furniture.

Appropriately for the digital age we live in, he found interior design assistance on Decorilla — a San Fransisco-based website which provided him with a range of design concepts from which to chose, 3D visualisations, and also helped him source furniture and select various shades of grey.

The main living area in this ultra-stylish, triangular-shaped apartment is a triangular-shaped kitchen /dining/living room which has a full height wall of windows running along its longest side — or hypotenuse — which is 42ft long. The kitchen is in one corner of the triangle, the dining area at the other while the sitting room section is in the middle. A knowledge of geometry would probably be useful to viewers who want to figure out the square footage.

Running the full length of the extra long window and beyond it to the master bedroom, is a decked balcony with a glass balustrade which accounts for over 330 sq ft of the space in the apartment. From here there are comprehensive views in two directions of city landmarks, rooftops and steeple spires.

At the front there’s a view across the river to the Western road and of the hillside above the city and the spires of churches in both Sunday’s Well and Gurranabraher. On the other side there are views across the rooftops to St Finbarr’s Cathedral and closer to the city centre of the spire of St Finbarr’s South church.

Matching the distinctiveness and modernity of the apartment building , the owner has added some highly original features to the living area. Inspired by a picture he saw on Pinterest, he got an

art student from the Crawford Art College to layer two narrow sections of the wall with coloured clay. “The layering took four days — there are different shades of grey and some navy and it’s finished off with a splattering of silver to give it accent.”

The sections, one at the kitchen end and one at the dining room end creatively blend artwork with home décor. On the grey walls of the living area, attention is demanded by a pair of strikingly colourful abstract paintings. These, the owner explains, were a moving in gift from a friend, a graffiti artist called Dax and are the only pieces he has ever painted for an indoor space.

The kitchen has cream high gloss units, granite worktops and large centre island and good quality appliances and, catering for the lifestyle the property was designed for, a wine cooler. Off the kitchen, there’s also a small utility area.

FURNISHING the living area with the help of Decorillo, the owner imported a grey rug from Italy as well as a glass dining table from Sweden but sourced the grey suite locally in Caseys.

The windowless hallway in the centre of the apartment might have been dark and uninteresting if the owner hadn’t decided to use the space as a mini art gallery. Here he has hung three visually arresting abstract images of faces which have all been painted on newspaper by Dublin-based, Polish artist Katarzyna Gajewska. Also in the hallway is a design feature inspired by a visit to Castlemartyr hotel, a segment of stonework. For this the owner took out a section of the wall to create a recessed area which he filled with rectangular pieces of white sandstone , chosen he explains, because this was the stone that was used in construction on this side of the city.

Off the hallway is a large en suite master bedroom, which, unsurprisingly, is also triangular shaped with a 22 ft long wall at one side. It has a door leading out onto the long front balcony as well as a large window with city views , and, like the rest of the apartment, has grey walls and a grey pillar. The décor is modern as are the furnishings which include a vibrant coloured green chair from a UK office furniture company and a white gloss Danish table.

Off the hallway there’s a bathroom in addition to two regular shaped rectangular bedrooms including one with an en suite shower room and a large window .

The end bedroom has a fine view of the three spires on St Finbarr’s which the owner says looks particularly good at night when it is lit up. From here you can also look out onto the tennis courts of St Al’s secondary school and glimpse the Episcopal palace through the trees.

Fitted with double glazed aluminium windows which have a timber finish on the inside, the apartment has gas heating and a B2 energy rating. Making additional use of modern technology , the owner installed a Nest thermostat which allows him to control the heating from his smartphone.

Facilities on offer in the Sherkin building include a reception area with post boxes and lifts and the apartment has two car spaces in the secure underground car park. There’s a management fee of €1,600 a year which includes refuse facilities, which Mr O’Sullivan describes as being very reasonable for such a large unit.

Viewing starts this week with a showing to a UK buyer who expressed immediate interest when it went on the market. Mr O’Sullvian says that both the size of the apartment and its location close to UCC and within strolling distance of the city are very strong selling points.

One of 21 apartments in the Sherkin, it’s one of four most spacious ones with 1,924 sq ft of living space, and it also has one of the longest balconies.


Verdict: Sharp and stylish.

Western Road, Cork City

€625,000

Sq m: 178 (1,924 sq ft) including balcony

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

BER: B3

Best feature: The wall of glass



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