Uni­corn among Mer­rion Row build­ings ac­quired by Friends First

In­surer paid less than the ask­ing price of €9m for the Dublin port­fo­lio Pur­chaser will seek to in­crease the rent roll of €433,000

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS COMMERCIAL PROPERTY - JACK FA­GAN Com­mer­cial Prop­erty Ed­i­tor

Friends First has ac­quired four com­mer­cial build­ings, in­clud­ing the Uni­corn Restau­rant and a high-pro­file re­de­vel­op­ment site on Mer­rion Row, close to St Stephen’s Green and the Shel­bourne Ho­tel in Dublin’s south in­ner city.

The in­surance com­pany paid some­what less than the ask­ing price of €9 mil­lion for the port­fo­lio, which will form part of its Ir­ish Prop­erty Fund.

The prop­er­ties pro­duce a rental in­come of €433,000 and will pro­vide a chal­lenge for Friends First to im­prove their value ei­ther through re­fur­bish­ment or re­de­vel­op­ment.

Three of the prop­er­ties in the “Mer­rion Col­lec­tion” have leases that run out next year; the fourth lease ex­pires in 2020.

The var­i­ous op­tions in­clude the re­fur­bish­ment and amal­ga­ma­tion of the build­ings, regear­ing of the ex­ist­ing leases, or a full re­de­vel­op­ment of the build­ings. Sig­nif­i­cantly, there is a lapsed plan­ning per­mis­sion for a sub­stan­tial re­de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a restau­rant with cook­ing school and pri­vate din­ing, ground floor re­tail and an apartho­tel.

An in­vest­ment syn­di­cate known as Ruby Point Ltd, led by Liam Shana­han and Liam Coul­ter, spent well in ex­cess of €5 mil­lion on as­sem­bling the

Plan­ning per­mis­sion for a sub­stan­tial re­de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a restau­rant, has lapsed

site. The ex­ist­ing build­ings are rel­a­tively small, ex­tend­ing to a mere 8,800sq ft over two floors. A yard in front of the Uni­corn, oc­ca­sion­ally used as a car park, is likely to be in­cluded in any new de­vel­op­ment.

An ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence point from a plan­ning point of view is the mod­ern five-storey over-ground floor of­fice block

Three of the prop­er­ties in the “Mer­rion Col­lec­tion” have leases that run out next year; the fourth lease ex­pires in 2020

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