herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

DDDA insists €450k is best price for U2 site

THE Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) is insisting that it secured open-market value for a building it has agreed to sell to rock band U2.

However, the commercial semi-state has refused to go into details about the sale process for number 16 Hanover Quay.

The property is the site of the old riverfront studio, where U2 recorded some of their most famous albums.

It was bought in a compulsory purchase order by the company in 2002.

The DDDA yesterday announced that it had agreed to sell the property to the band for around €450,000.

"The building was sold in line with our guidelines for such assets and we are satisfied that we secured an open-market price," a spokesperson said.

The decision to sell was made after An Bord Pleanala recently approved a new planning scheme for the area, which has deemed it an art space with a variety of tourism attractions.

A spokesman for U2 declined to comment on the deal but industry sources made clear their commitment to Dublin would continue.

The DDDA had planned to also acquire number 18 in the area.

Development

Plans had been put in place to knock down the structures at both of these addresses to allow for access to the water body at the quay.

The move was to pave the way for a public space.

In return, U2 were promised the top two floors of a nearby building that became known as the 'U2 Tower' but has yet to be built.

The DDDA said it welcomed the planning board's approval of the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Planning Scheme.

The plan said that the area "with its unique geography and mix of river, dockside, industrial and contemporary buildings may in itself be considered as an art space".

"It presents an ideal canvas for festivals, events and public art," it added.

Their scheme noted the potential for outdoor street-art exhibitions as a means of engaging with youth culture and "reflecting the area's rich musical heritage, as in the case of the existing graffiti art in the vicinity of the U2 studios at Hanover Quay".

Rockers

The studio has been a key refuge for the band over the past two decades. The rockers recorded the bulk of their last four albums there and the building has plenty of natural light with views right out onto Grand Canal dock.

The studio adjoins the substantial warehouse building home of developer Harry Crosbie.

The commercial semi-state, which is being wound down, was set up in 1997 to oversee the redevelopment of the area.

However, it was hit with a number of scandals including the former management's recommendation to back the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle Site for €412m in November 2006 - since valued at €45m.

Last month it emerged that a protected structure on Dublin's Liffey quays, which was part of plans to expand U2's Clarence Hotel, is to become a new branch of restaurant and grocer Fallon & Byrne.

Dublin City Council granted permission for Dollard House, a 100-year-old printworks beside the hotel, to be converted into a restaurant, wine bar, shop, and pub and micro-brewery.

The development will be anchored by Fallon & Byrne, which already has an outlet on nearby Exchequer Street.

hnews@herald.ie

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