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Ballsbridge Flying High — With Or Without Facebook

Dublin Office

Less than a mile from so-called ‘Googletown’ in Dublin 4, Ballsbridge is expected to become the main Irish home of its very own online tech giant in the near future.

It has been widely reported that Facebook is in advanced talks to take more than 700K SF between AIB’s Bankcentre in Ballsbridge and two blocks to be developed by Ronan Group Real Estate at the front of the campus.

While this would certainly be expected to have a big impact on commercial property activity in the area, Ballsbridge has already seen significant development — and demand — in the last couple of years, underpinned by the Comer Group’s One Ballsbridge scheme and Chartered Land’s Lansdowne Place.

“Ballsbridge is a well established commercial district but it has definitely been growing in the last year,” Savills Associate Director Kellie O’Brien said. “A lot of activity has happened in that golden triangle of Pembroke Road, Lansdowne Road and Shelbourne Road and some of the new schemes are re-energising the area.”

Number One Ballsbridge

A rendering if the completed One Ballsbridge scheme

Built on the site of the former UCD Veterinary College on Shelbourne Road, Number One Ballsbridge comprises three blocks and includes a mix of office and retail space, as well as 88 high-end apartments. There is a total of 135K SF of office accommodation and nearly 23K SF of retail space across 11 units.

Building one is now fully leased: aircraft leasing company Avolon took all 75K SF of the office accommodation, while the two ground floor units will shortly be occupied by Avoca and Dylan McGrath’s Shelbourne Social. Avoca’s 8K SF unit — originally intended solely as a food hall but now also seeking a restaurant licence — is expected to open after Christmas, while the 4,500 SF Shelbourne Social restaurant could start trading by November.

Building three is being let on a floor-by-floor basis. Aircraft leasing companies CMIG Aviation and CALS Aviation have already taken possession of their respective 3K SF floors, while investment management firm Legg Mason is currently fitting out its 2K SF of space on the sixth floor.

The final block — building two — has just been brought to the market. The 10-storey building comprises three main floors of around 40K SF of office space in addition to apartments on the upper levels. Although largely completed, these apartments have not yet been launched.

On the retail side, Butlers Chocolate Café is already trading. Another café is in legals, as is a restaurant operator, subject to getting planning. Six further retail units are still available.

A couple of new pedestrian streets and a plaza area have been created in Number One Ballsbridge and these will eventually join up with a neighbouring scheme to be developed by Chartered Land and ADIA on the site of the former Jury’s Hotel (now the Ballsbridge Hotel).

That development will include nearly 300 apartments and over 100K SF of retail space, as well as a 211-bedroom hotel

Lansdowne Place

The concierge reception lobby in the private residents' suite at Lansdowne Place

Chartered Land and ADIA are also behind the residential scheme on the site of the former Clyde Court Hotel (previously the Berkeley Court), where 215 luxury apartments — ranging in price from €800K to €7.5M — are currently being built across seven blocks.

The most expensive property is believed to be the biggest apartment ever to be offered on the market in Ireland. It's a four-bedroom, 4,240 SF penthouse with a further 3,460 SF of external space, including a 1,490 SF rooftop terrace.

The scheme also offers a private residents’ suite with a lounge and cinema, dining area, sauna, steam room and gymnasium, as well as a concierge service.

Back on Shelbourne Road, work has just started on the redevelopment of David Daly’s IPC House, which will deliver 67K SF of office space.

Around the corner, another Daly development — 140 Pembroke Road, formerly Franklin House — has recently completed. The seven-storey scheme offers around 25K SF of office accommodation and is being marketed by Lisney

It’s next door to Hume House, which was bought by Sean Dunne in 2006 for €100M, sold to Blackstone in 2014 as part of Project Platinum, and bought back by Irish Life for €35M in 2016. The site has planning permission until 2020 for a nine-story 173K SF building, replacing the existing 98K SF block.

At present, Bank of Ireland and AIB are tenants with a few years left on their leases so Irish Life is not expected to redevelop any time soon.

The rest

Ten Pembroke Place in Ballsbridge

JLL reports good interest in 10 Pembroke Place, a four-storey scheme next to the Herbert Hotel and Herbert Park that offers 24K SF of space. According to JLL Divisional Director Rita Carney, letting agent on the building, the second and third floors are now in legals with an insurance firm and a tech company. “Normally tenants seeking that smaller size wouldn’t look so far in advance,” she said. “We’re happy with the progress so far, given that we’re four months away from completion.”

Another building due for redevelopment is Carrisbrook House on Pembroke Road, which is owned by Colony and U+I. According to a recent report, the Israeli Embassy in Ireland — a longtime tenant of the building — is holding up the work over security concerns.

The Facebook factor

AIB Group headquarters In Ballsbridge

While other schemes are in the pipeline, most attention at the moment is fixed on the future plans for the AIB campus. In early February, it was reported that Facebook was considering taking on the bank’s space when it moves its operations to Molesworth Street and Central Park in Leopardstown next year.

A few weeks later, a Sunday Busines Post report suggested that Facebook was also interested in taking the 330K SF Fibonacci Square scheme to be developed by RGRE at the Merrion Road side of the campus. It is generally assumed that an announcement to this effect will be made before the end of this year.

According to O'Brien, such a deal would be a game changer for Ballsbridge. "It would be a totally different, very vibrant occupier coming to this location," she said.

Either way, an increasing number of tech companies are expected to join existing occupiers like Ding, Tableau, SurveyMonkey, Wipro, Nuance, MongoDB and Zynga in the area over the next couple of years. “I think if you fast forward 12 or 24 months, Ballsbridge will have a lot more technology companies because there’s a pipeline of new buildings to come on and good demand out there,” Cushman & Wakefield Director Offices Aisling Tannam said.