Saturday, July 27, 2013

No Line On The Horizon

Rise up, U2 Tower. Rise up from the docklands of Dublin where today there is no line on the horizon. The picture above is, of course, just a computer-generated architect's rendering.

The property crash brought you down to earth, after the high fliers in real estate development discovered that what goes up must come down. Now you belong to the National Asset Management Agency which has been working for years to find ways to recoup losses suffered by the Irish taxpayers who bailed out the failed banks that loaned too much to too many with too little common sense.

NAMA noticed that a parcel adjoining the site of the proposed U2 Tower was owned by an American property developer based in Beverly Hills, California. Anyone familiar with the old television programme would know that there is money in them there Hills and development projects are not going to take off without money.

In the classic manner, a deal has been struck and the U2 Tower is resurrected. Granted, it is a great deal shorter (insert Bono joke here) than the original concept that the band was going to help fund, but the project itself has spread out a little to encompass the parcel controlled by Kennedy-Wilson Holdings.

Kennedy-Wilson has been investing heavily in distressed Irish properties, under the assumption that what went down will, in time, go back up. The Irish government is hoping that they will go a step further and invest in actual buildings where actual people will live, thereby attracting urban pioneers who have money to spend on shops that will open to cater to their needs.

Whether or not the revised version of the tower will have studio space for the band, as originally envisioned, remains to be seen. Certainly the chance that a resident might encounter Mr. Hewson wandering the corridor would be a major selling point for one of the luxury flats. What the nation needs is something new going up. The government needs a splashy project to point to, indicating that they have done something for the hard-pressed taxpayers who could use a little good news.

As for Kennedy-Wilson, they can expect the local authorities to be quite a bit more flexible than they might have been when developers were so keen to construct and more willing to bend to meet council objections or recommendations. It is now the Dublin County Council and state planners who are willing to twist themselves into whatever shape a developer would like, just to get things moving again.

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