Dealmakers behind the €14 million purchase of the bulk of the City Quarter investment in Cork city centre from Nama have emerged as the just-re-branded MC2 Accountants, on behalf of private investors.
The swoop marks the start of a new phase of property investment advice and acquisition for the company.
Confirmation of their role in the deal was disclosed yesterday as the independently-owned financial services firm McCarthy McSweeney was rebranded as MC2.
McCarthy McSweeney, established in 2013 and developed a property investment expertise in acquisitions such as the purchase of the former Anglo Irish Bank offices on Anglesea Street in Cork, and in acquiring premises for the Emporium Bar Group, currently owners of four high profile bars/restaurants and aiming to expand.
MC2 are also active in other Munster-based office and residential developments.
The firm structured and advised on the City Quarter deal on behalf of private client investors, and although the buyers weren’t know at the time, the c €14m deal was reported here in January when it was noted that Derry O’Regan and partners of the Soho bar group would run the former Boardwalk bar grill and restaurant.
Now, it’s emerged the Soho group (which includes Séan McCarthy and Jon Cronin) and who’ve also redeveloped Paddy the Farmers and East Douglas Village, are separately buying the Boardwalk for an undisclosed price within the City Quarter deal.
The €14m investment sale at City Quarter, via Isobel O’Regan of Savills for Nama, includes 38,000 sq ft of offices, 14,000 sq ft of ground floor retail/restaurants, and 229 out of 280 car park spaces over two basement levels.
The Scott Tallon Walker-designed building, with the adjoining Clayton Hotel, was developed at a cost of €100m by Howard Holdings in the mid 2000s, and currently is 64% vacant, with a rent roll of €654,000.
It’s understood that MC2 has deals pending for several un-let portions, including the ground floor area vacated by Landmark Media, once the paperwork with Nama is completed.
Nearby, the Port of Cork site is at advanced stage of sale negotiations, likely to be at a c €5m price level, for a mixed use scheme including accommodation, hospitality and offices.
Speaking at a business breakfast to relaunch McCarthy McSweeney (currently grown to 25 staff) as MC2, director Jim McCarthy commented on the City Quarter sale: “Given that these units have remained empty since the previous tenants vacated, the property offers significant asset management opportunities.”
The €14m deal excludes floors currently occupied by accountants EY, GJ Moloney solicitors, A&L Goodbody, plusa portion of the first floor which is occupied by Clayton Hotel and Granite Asset Management.
In reference to the sale of the Boardwalk, Mr McCarthy said: “It is understood that the firm has plans to restyle this property and launch a new bar and restaurant.”
Meanwhile, also sold in Cork city for €13.4m is a significant portion of Merchants Quay Shopping Centre, acquired by Clarendon Properties.
Already, Clarendon owns the Wilton Shopping Centre in Cork, Queens Old Castle, Courthouse Chambers and the Savoy, and has been active in site acquisition in the second city, including site assembly around the Savoy on Patrick Street where it has bought the Quills building.
The Merchants Quay Shopping Centre was developed in 1989 by the recently deceased Owen O’Callaghan, and has gone through a succession of owners and divisions since. It went publicly for sale September with 29 income earning retail units, and a rent roll of €1.47m guided at €12.5m, via CBRE and Savills.
Clarendon, Davy and Varde were among those targeted in the sale, which excluded key anchors such as Dunnes, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and SuperValu. JLL advised Clarendon Properties, which is headed by Paddy Killeen and Tony Leonard: the latter has long retail experience in Cork, right back to the 1970s and Savoy Centre development with Robin Power.
Joining Clarendon in the €13.7m purchase of the retail asset with uplift potential was Belgian company Finaxer, registered in Ireland since 2016.
Planning permission has just been granted for alterations to the Merchants Quay Centre to allow for a repositioned main mall and larger box retail units on two levels, as well as a reskinning of the facade onto Patrick Street, from the corner of Merchants Quay to M&S’s dated red-brick facade.
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