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€23m price tag on block owned by former Anglo lender

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A city centre retail, office and residential building – part-owned by a former director of the disgraced Anglo Irish Bank – has been put on the market with a €23 million price tag.

Geata na Cathrach at the Fairgreen, which houses the Revenue offices and Ulster Bank among others, is owned by Tom Browne, the former Head of Irish Lending at Anglo, along with John Hughes, a former Head of Business Banking with AIB in Eyre Square.

The duo purchased what was originally known as the ‘Castlehope’ building – a massive 126,000 square foot block adjacent to the Radisson Blu Hotel – in 2008.

It was initially built by developers Bernard McNamara, Christ Hirst and Jerry O’Reilly.

The site stretches from beside the WebWorks building to the Radisson and includes Exchange House and Geata na Cathrach.

It includes 11 two-bed apartments, Loam restaurant, Atlantic Language School, Ulster Bank and Revenue. Tenants are not affected.

Currently, it is generating rent of more than €1.6 million per annum, and selling agents DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald have attached a €23m price tag.

Also for sale is 48,000 sq ft of office space in the Dockgate building at the Docks – which the two former bankers also own – with a price tag of €9m.

Mr Browne left Anglo in 2008 on a basic salary of €455,000 with an €800,000 bonus. Last year, he secured an extension of time on plans for a ‘facelift’ to the Castlehope development until 2019.

“Funding for the project could not be sourced to commence the development during the duration of the [original] permission due to the prevailing economic conditions and associated lending restrictions.

“The funding issue arose primarily as a function of the lack of a permanent occupier of the relevant commercial floor space and the poor state of the commercial sector during the financial crisis since 2008.

“However, having regard to the ‘bottoming out’ of the recession, [Mr Browne] is confident that the proposed development, which constitutes the provision of high quality alterations to an existing development, will be attractive to the market and achieve the required funding to implement the development in the coming years,” the application for more time read.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work/live units form part of new Galway City affordable housing project

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Five ‘live/work’ units form part of the design of a new affordable and social housing development planned for Ballybane.

The mixed development unanimously approved by city councillors this week will provide 103 apartments and houses in the Coillte Mhuirlinne estate.

A total of 85 homes will be affordable, although the details of how much they will cost to purchase have yet to be decided. The remaining 20%, or 18 units, will be social housing. Some €4.6 million in Government funding has already been approved for the social housing aspect of the plan.

Included in the design of the housing development is a ‘live/work’ element.

The Council’s Acting Director of Services for Housing, Tom Prendergast, explained that the ground floor of the five live/work three-storey units would contain an office, retail or commercial unit for service providers with three-bedroom maisonettes over the next two floors.

“It would be envisioned that these five units would be small-scale businesses run by the occupants living above.

“There would be little passing trade for any commerciality of these units so we would envisage small local services similar to a hairdresser, accountant, physiotherapist would occupy these units as an extension of ‘working from home’,” the report to city councillors said.

Mr Prendergast said the concept was similar to people living over their shops in towns and city centres. A crèche will also be built close to the commercial units.

Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly, said she hoped lessons were learned from the previous commercial property development in Ballybane where units “were empty for 15 years” and some public bodies could not afford the rents.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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