Friday, November 23, 2007

Builders hold finished units to wait and see

With an estimated 10,000 empty apartments in the Dublin area, builders are opting to rent them out rather than try to sell them, says Fiona Tyrrell

The former gasholder at Ringsend is one of a number of newly built apartment buildings in Dublin that is lying empty as developers adopt a wait-and-see approach in the ailing new homes market.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 empty units in the Dublin area. The vast majority of these are new apartments which have either failed to sell or have not been put on the market.

The most notable example is the Alliance Building, the nine-storey cylindrical apartment block built inside the metal struts of the Victorian gasholder at the Gasworks scheme in Ringsend, Dublin 4.

The landmark structure forms part of a 7.8-acre site bought by developer Liam Carroll from Bord Gáis in the mid 1990s. Six hundred apartments were built here, along with the office complex now occupied by Google. A further 200 apartments were built in the former gasholder.

The first 50 apartments were launched in June 2006 with prices ranging from €675,000 to just over €1 million. However, it is not clear how many of these were sold. The entire scheme has now been withdrawn from the market, according to the selling agent Hooke & MacDonald.

Rumours are circulating among residents at the Gasworks that those who did buy apartments at the gasholder were given their deposits back by the developer. There has even been speculation that the unusual building may be turned into a hotel.

Carroll is one of a growing number of developers who have extra stock on their hands at the moment. In some cases developers are holding off launching entire schemes until conditions improve rather than risk a failed sales launch.

Others are opting to retain the stock themselves and rent them out, taking advantage of the high rents being achieved in the city. Developers are either renting out the last few units in schemes that have failed to sell or in some cases entire schemes that have never been launched.

The Irish Times

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