herald

Friday 2 December 2016

First phase of €30m Priory Hall upgrade now almost complete

Priory Hall during the upgrade
Priory Hall during the upgrade
Artist's impression of the completed €30m upgrade of the complex

This is how Priory Hall will look when Dublin City Council has finished transforming it from a death-trap fire hazard into a modern city complex built to proper safety standards.

The first phase of the upgrade of the notorious complex in Donaghmede, which became a sorry symbol for everything that was wrong with the Celtic Tiger building boom, is now almost complete.

The cost of securing and redeveloping the complex has risen to over €30m.

Built in 2007 by developer and former IRA hunger striker, Tom McFeely, it was condemned by fire inspectors and evacuated by court order in 2011 when it was deemed to be uninhabitable for safety reasons.

Useless

Dublin City Council was then forced to house its occupants at a cost of €3m, many of whom had taken mortgages out on the death-trap properties.

Then a long and protracted court battle began on many fronts while Priory Hall stood empty and useless.

McFeely went bankrupt and said he did not have the money to fix the problems.

The darkest day in Priory Hall's short but tragic history came when Dublin dad Fiachra Daly took his own life in July 2013 under the strain of mortgage debt and letters from banks. His partner, Stephanie Meehan, bravely spoke of her plight and that of her neighbours in Priory Hall.

After two long years, a deal was reached whereby ownership of owner-occupier homes was transferred to the council and residents were allowed walk away from their mortgages.

Owners of buy-to-let properties were given a moratorium on their mortgage payments - and were promised a complete refurbishment of their apartments.

The council decided to reconstruct the complex, including unfinished apartments, and then offer them for sale.

A group of 46 were given fresh mortgages to buy elsewhere, while some have stayed in the private rented sector.

"The refurbishment of the complex is well under way, with the first phases in the Northern Blocks completed and due to be ready for occupancy at the end of the year," a DCC spokesperson told the Herald.

"The remaining Northern Blocks will be completed by the end of January 2016.

"The work involves the complete refurbishment of the complex in order to bring it up to a standard suitable for sale on the market. This cost will be significantly offset by the sale of the 65 apartments acquired by DCC from the IBRC."

Ken MacDonald of Hooke & MacDonald said all 187 apartments are being refurbished. No price has been set yet.

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