herald

Wednesday 16 April 2014

End of D4 dream as Burlington is sold for a bargain €67m

IT was once part of the wider 'D4 dream' but the Burlington Hotel has now been sold for €67m -- a massive 76pc reduction on its boom time value.

Developer Bernard McNamara paid a whopping €288m for the hotel in 2007 -- the figure only eclipsed by Sean Dunne's whopping €379m offer for Jury's and Berkeley Court.

The prestigious Dublin 4 area was a notable hot spot for investors who aimed to build prime office developments and luxury apartments.

Tower

Mr Dunne had planned to build a €1.5bn high-rise mixed development on the site of the Dublin 4 hotels, with a 37-storey tower as the centrepiece.

In 2006, Mr McNamara paid a further €100m for the adjoining Allianz building to the Burlington Hotel on the Burlington Road -- planning a massive €1bn development.

That dream went up in smoke with the Irish economy.

But the sale of the 'Burlo' brings some welcome news as the buyer, Blackstone, intends to spend €16m on a makeover for the 500-room premises.

The sale of the Burlington Hotel is being viewed as a major boost for the property market.

It is the biggest sale of a hotel since the economy went into freefall in 2008.

And it indicates that foreign hotel operators are clearly interested in Ireland as a real investment opportunity.

Room occupancy rates have levelled off in recent months and there are signs of a boost to tourism levels.

The Burlington, a firm favourite of the rugby crowd and a conference venue, remains one of Europe's biggest city-centre hotels spread out over a 3.8-acre site near to the city centre.

The hotel shut down for a short period in January 2008, but it reopened later that year.

Experts estimate that the hotel is generating between €5m and €6m a year in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

The sale was negotiated by Paul Collins of CBRE Hotels on behalf of Grant Thornton receiver Paul McCann.

The hotel opened in 1972 and is known locally as the 'Burlo'.

Earlier this year, developer Sean Dunne confirmed that he was at "an advanced stage" in agreeing an exit strategy with his banks to bring an end to his D4 dream.

He has since been ordered to repay €164.5m to honour personal guarantees he gave when obtaining loans to buy the Jury's Hotel site.

The consortium of banks provided loans that financed a €379m deal to buy the hotel sites in Ballsbridge in 2005.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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