HomeBussinessNama sells interest in last site at Dublin docklands

Nama sells interest in last site at Dublin docklands

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‘Bad bank’ helped to transform region and now plans commercial space and 150 residential units on the prime site

The State’s “bad bank” has sold the leasehold to a triangular site at the confluence of the Dodder and Liffey rivers in Grand Canal Dock.

While Nama held the leasehold over a portion of the 0.57 hectares, Waterways Ireland had the freehold over all of it. Nama has now sold its leasehold for an undisclosed amount, but said to be market value, to the north-south body.

A spokeswoman for Waterways Ireland said it wouldn’t be making a comment on the matter.

According to Nama’s recently published annual report, the intention is to provide 56 sq ft of commercial space and 150 residential units on the site, subject to planning permission.

The disposal marks the end of Nama’s involvement in the area, which the former finance minister Michael Noonan once said represented a “unique opportunity” for the agency and the taxpayer.

Speaking in 2014, Mr Noonan said it was “rare” for such swathes of “prime water-front land in a modern city” to be undeveloped, and for a state organisation to own it. He declared: “Nama now has the opportunity to bring this area to life and create a Dublin Docklands that will rival the likes of Canary Wharf, Boston’s Seaport and Singapore’s Marina Bay.”

Nama originally held an interest in 75pc of the 22 hectares of undeveloped land in the Dublin Docklands Strategic Development Zone, which was designated in 2012, allowing fast-tracked planned. The zone included sites previously controlled by Harry Crosbie and Treasury Holdings.

The agency also controlled many of the existing buildings in the zone, mostly office blocks. Nama entered into joint ventures with several private-equity firms to redevelop the most important sites.

According to its annual report, Nama is taking the credit for being “vital in driving and facilitating the development of the docklands area”.

It says completed Nama projects in the zone contributed 2.6 million sq ft of commercial space and 606 residential units, on what were previously derelict or brownfield sites.

Among the landmark developments are the redevelopment of the Bolands Mill site, the 11-storey Benson Building, and Capital Dock, a 22-storey mixed-use development.

The agency is due to finish all its operations by the end of 2025.

The last 1pc of docklands real estate in which it had an interest proved tricky to dispose of.

A report by the Comptroller & Auditor General in 2023 said a provisional agreement to sell the site had been reached between Nama and Waterways Ireland “and is awaiting approval from its sponsoring Department and the North-South Ministerial Council”.

In an appearance before an Oireachtas committee, Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said his agency was hoping for a joint sale with Waterways Ireland, “but it needs North-South approval, and obviously that is an issue at present”.

At the time Stormont was suspended, and there had been no plenary meeting of the North-South ministerial Council since July 2021.

These meetings have now resumed, and a north-south ministerial council inland waterways meeting was held in Clones last month.

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