herald

Sunday 26 October 2014

Developer plots his comeback with designs for single mums

MULTI-MILLIONAIRE property developer Philip Marley has plans for a big comeback in Ireland -- for single mums.

The entrepreneur, who made his name building student accommodation in Ireland and the UK, grabbed headlines when his relationship with Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star Dana Wilkey went public.

Now Marley (41) has plans for a development targeted at single mothers in Dublin.

His idea is to create a 'common interest community' where single mothers and their children could live in an apartment block with access to career advice, babysitting services and other facilities.

"Ireland has a huge issue with single moms," he said. "If you had a facility for them living together, sharing babysitting, career guidance and it would be safe.

"I've been asked, hasn't this been done with nursing homes? But age is not a common interest," he added.

"People of similar backgrounds and interests like to be around each other," he stated. The developer is currently planning an Arab-student village in London, with a private mosque.

But before a brick is laid on the single mothers' development in Dublin, the developer has other matters to address.

Proud

While he is not involved in NAMA, Marley is understood to have a €10m loan with Irish Bank Resolution Corporation -- the former Anglo Irish Bank.

A group of creditors recently lodged High Court papers in an attempt to liquidate his student accommodation firm Ely Property over outstanding debts.

But for now Marley is pressing ahead with plans for expansion. The developer says he is, above all, a proud Dub and believes the country is ripe for entrepreneurial action.

At 11 he was reselling schoolbooks; by his mid-30s he was a millionaire.

"I'm a northside Dub and very proud of it. They say 'never waste a good recession' and I think that it is a brilliant time for people who are hungry and not afraid.

"The pitch is clear: a lot of the barriers have been wiped out.

"I started off at 11, searching in the skip at Smurfits for schoolbooks that were thrown out, which I then sold to my school," he said.

"By 18 I had my own office and set up Marley Media."

From there Marley went on to a male strip group ("fun"), but he said the best opportunity was during the boom, when he established Ely Property Group.

However he admits mistakes were made.

"I realised there was a gap in student housing market," he said.

"Within two years I had built a company worth €30m. I then sold that to another company, making myself a multi-millionaire.

"I made some brilliant decisions but I made a few investments -- advised by other people -- that were not so good.

"I made a lot of money and I lost a lot of money," he added.

Battle

He faces a new battle on February 4 when a group of creditors hopes to seek clarity about the finances of Ely.

But he has his eye on the potential here. Marley is testing the 'common interest community' in London where he now plans an Arab-only student village with a private mosque.

He hopes to repeat the plan around the world, from an LA development for aspiring actors to the development dedicated to single mums in Dublin.

"The 400-bed facility in London will be purely for the Arab community, operating by Sharia Law, with its own mosque, translation services, Arab TV and men and women living together according to Arab way of life," he explained. "If I built an Irish student-only village in Australia, I know I could fill it."

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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