Dublin’s Central Plaza offers the ‘best view’ of the city to be rented – The Irish Times

“Probably the best view of the city,” says Brian Moran. The Senior Managing Director of the Heinz Real Estate Investments Group in Ireland is on the rooftop terrace of the 10th floor of Central Plaza, the former headquarters of the Central Bank on Dam Street.

It’s a rainy and bustling day, but the uninterrupted view on all four sides across Dublin city is stunning and should prove to be a major attraction once the impressive glass-roof restaurant opens in the coming months.

Hines, based in Houston, Texas, and Hong Kong-based real estate investment firm Peterson Group acquired the iconic Sam Stephenson-designed building and adjacent properties in College Green for €67 million in 2017.

They have spent the intervening period planning a new future for the campus to provide a mix of offices, retail and food and beverage venues. The buildings have been stripped to the bone and carefully updated to accommodate office workers, shoppers, and shoppers.

After earlier delays, Central Plaza was due to open last year, but Covid shutdown restrictions, and issues with the supply of microchips and other materials held it back for another 12 months.

“We would have finished a year ago. This is a year of lost revenue and extra overhead,” Moran says, adding that this equates to €8m to €10m in additional costs, with revenue lost on top of that.

The mix in the newly renovated complex consists of offices (60 percent), food and beverages (25 percent) and retail (15 percent). According to Moran, it’s 88 percent right now, with a few key units yet to be identified.

Number 2 Central Plaza, on the ground floor of Dame Street, has been renovated to provide two large retail units, but Moran has discontinued them for the time being. “Big retail units weren’t the flavor of the month [post-pandemic]. This has been postponed until we open the whole place.

“We had all kinds of offers but nothing really interested us about the type of use. It could be a really solid retailer, or a food and beverage offering. When this opens, someone might pass by and say ‘let’s do this.’ We didn’t want to put someone in there no Complete the scheme.

A number of leading brands have already signed on to the dotted line, including burger group BuJo, Gino’s Gelato and a new entrant to the Irish market, Las Iguanas. Krispy Kreme’s famous cake maker unit quickly takes shape as we walk around the complex.

Some of the long steps that led to the former central bank head office have been removed with steps that now lead below street level into a sunken plaza, where you can dine or have a drink. An elevator will take diners to a rooftop restaurant, where three separate dining concepts are being planned by operator Zafar Shah in Dubai.

Step out of the elevator and a host will greet you with a bar area to relax in before dinner. Go up a few steps and you’re on the outside balcony, with stunning views on all four sides. Back inside, customers will head up a few more steps to dinner. The height of the dining room means that the people inside will not be interrupted by people walking around the balcony to enjoy the views.

For now, the space is still a concrete and steel enclosure, awaiting fit-out. Fire safety rules mean that a maximum of 500 people will be allowed inside the rooftop area approaching 15,500 square feet (1,600 square metres) at any one time. “We feel this experience will become a huge part of people visiting Dublin,” Moran says.

Given its great location, has housing been considered for this part of the building? Heinz is involved in housing projects in other parts of the city. The reality, Moran says, is that commercial produce and food and beverage “can potentially give you twice the rent” of the residential space.

“This is a more commercial building and you will be in big trouble with fire codes. Also, this is a unique space and it would be a shame because of its height in the middle of the city not to allow the public here and make it an attraction and something special to the city. From the beginning this was our plan,” he says.

We Work, the NYSE-listed global co-working company, has taken seven floors of office space at One Central Plaza (what we’ve come to know as the Central Bank headquarters building), which will be sublet to tenants. It was recorded before the pandemic and before hybrid work began here. Despite the work-from-home trend, Moran is confident in the office’s future and believes that We Work’s business model is ideal for the location.

“At the end of the day, an office is a place to collaborate and a space to direct people. A site like this works very well because of the local communities and transportation lines. We could have rented the space I would say about three times in terms of demand for office space of this quality at this location.” The idea of ​​a flexible workspace will now be part of the portfolio going forward for businesses.”

Moran says We Work is “keen to get in here and start getting ready” later this month. “I feel like they’ll have their tenants here by the start of the new year,” he says.

According to Moran, construction costs came to about 100 million euros, when you factor in professional fees and other fees. He expects Hines to keep it in its portfolio to the point of “stability”, when it is allowed and fully operational. This might be a year later. “Make the place stable and then it’s up for sale,” he says. “The plan was always to sell it.”

Due to Covid delays and other issues, Moran suggests that Central Plaza may eventually wash its face only in terms of revenue for its owners.

“We would like a value-added return. I think we honestly won’t achieve everything we decided to do because of the complications of Covid. Ourselves and Peterson are big companies, so we won’t lose our lives for not doing so well in our portfolio. But from our point of view, the main thing is to do it. Correctly, setting a standard for quality, and not cutting back on any of the details.

“I really believe that if we get footfall, get the right retailers… in the long run, this investment will make sense for the next owner. We are big enough to absorb the speed bumps. The main thing now is to finish it right, make it a perfect building and then move on. to the next building and leave a legacy behind.”

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