The Central Bank has emerged as the most likely purchaser of the concrete shell of Anglo Irish Bank’s unfinished headquarters on North Wall Quay in Dublin, The Irish Times reported today.
Negotiations between the Central Bank and Nama, which wants to dispose of the site as part of its resolution of the debts of Liam Carroll’s Zoe Developments group, are at an advanced stage and a decision is imminent.
One well-placed source said the North Wall Quay site is the only one in Dublin with sufficient office space to accommodate all of the Central Bank’s staff, currently based in three main locations in or near the city centre: “We’re on the point of deciding to buy the Anglo site. It’s exactly the right size and fits our staff numbers well. It’s also the cheapest option available. Just because it was being built for Anglo doesn’t mean it should be jinxed.”
Last April, The Irish Times reported that this was one of the options under consideration, but it is now the only one on the table. There is also concern in the Central Bank that if it doesn’t move quickly, it could be “gazumped” by others.
It is known that US bank BNY Mellon looked at locating there.
It is understood the Central Bank took into account the possibility of an adverse public reaction to the State’s financial regulatory authority purchasing the most emblematic structure associated with the bursting of Ireland’s property bubble. But its rationale is the site could be acquired cheaply and the building completed economically, given that construction costs are now lower.
One of the main implications, however, is that the Central Bank would have no further use for its current headquarters on Dame Street.
“We don’t want to shutter it up,” the source said. “Property specialists say there would be no trouble getting tenants for it, or that it could be converted into a hotel in better times. But the building needs complete refurbishment and this can’t be done floor-by-floor.”
Apart from the “tower block” on Dame Street, Central Bank staff are housed in rented office space at two other principal locations – on Harcourt Road and Spencer Dock.
The Anglo shell on North Wall Quay, when completed, would provide 21,400sq m (230,350sq ft) of office space for all 1,500 staff in an institution that has expanded to fulfil its regulatory role in recent years.