Upmarket Makeover Takes Shape In Ballsbridge

17 Jun 2019 | 12.38 pm

Upmarket Makeover Takes Shape In Ballsbridge

The tony Dublin suburb is undergoing retail, residential and commercial regeneration

17 Jun 2019 | 12.38 pm

Arguably Dublin’s most exclusive address, Ballsbridge is undergoing retail, residential and commercial regeneration, writes Kenneth Rouse of BNP Paribas Real Estate

 

Leafy suburbia and the heart of south Dublin’s embassy belt, the illustrious residences and civilised amenities of Ballsbridge in Dublin 4, including the RDS and Herbert Park, made it a sought-after address for the well-heeled professional classes and the gentry who managed to hold onto the family’s ‘old money’.

Ballsbridge was also a magnet for would-be property moguls during the dysfunctional property investment cycle of the noughties that heralded the recession. Failed development projects characterised the area until recent years when, with the institutional investors and experienced property developers back in control, Ballsbridge is re-establishing its position as the jewel in the crown of upmarket locations.

The Comer Brothers’ development, Number One Ballsbridge, has recently delivered badly-needed retail, office and residential space in the area.  The retail and residential customer base comprises affluent locals and office workers, as well as visitors to local destinations, the RDS and the Aviva stadium, with Number One located midway between the two. 

Retail Street

The scheme provides a new pedestrianised retail street, linking Pembroke Road and Shelbourne Road, introducing a number of new eateries and 2,000 square metres of retail space. Avoca, a Butlers Chocolate Café, and Dylan McGrath’s Shelbourne Social are among the new operations that have commenced trading, with a Cinnamon restaurant opening shortly. 

Retail is still under-served in this area, which lacks amenities for modern businesses and their employees. The adjoining Ballsbridge Place development is expected to add further retail space in its later phases. The developer is Joe O’Reilly of Chartered Land, the man behind Dundrum Town Centre, who realises how Ballsbridge remains largely under-supplied in terms of retail provision.  

Traditionally an upmarket residential community, Ballsbridge started to develop commercially in the 1960s, with Hume House and Carrisbrook House developed for tenants such as AIB Bank and Bank of Ireland. From the financial institutions, the area evolved into an office location for professional services firms in the early 1990s, with the development of The Sweepstakes, Embassy House and the former Iona Technologies campus on Shelbourne Road, now known as 1/2/3 Shelbourne Buildings.

The Oval development on Shelbourne Road, constructed in 2005, was a successful Grade A office development, securing prestigious tenants such as Eirgrid Plc, Partner RE and Murex Advanced Technologies. The Oval was the trigger for future office developments on Shelbourne Road, although the recession did halt office development until the Comer-owned Number One Ballsbridge was launched in 2015, with its blue-chip occupiers including aircraft leasing firm Avolon.

Continuing strong demand in the Dublin office occupier market will see Dublin 4 office developments rapidly soaked up, with major demand in particular from TMT occupiers. The likes of internet giant Facebook recognise the appeal of the southern edge of the city as an office location, attracted by a strong labour pool and accessibility.

Facebook has acquired a long-term lease of 80,000 sq m at the former AIB Bank Centre for a new campus development.  The relocation of their HQ offices to the site will be a game changer for Ballsbridge. This is the biggest office letting in the history of the state and will bring 8,000 people to the area. To date, there has only been a small tech company presence in Ballsbridge, but Facebook’s move is likely to attract other major international tech companies, with a clustering effect similar to South Docklands.

Millennial Impact

We can look forward to a totally different employee profile, with the ‘millennial’ revolution hitting Ballsbridge in the next couple of years. New glass-box custom built developments will provide more practical workspaces than the older redeveloped period buildings that have served as offices. The area will consequently become more attractive for younger people, particularly the under 30s, both to live and to work, and this is likely to drive rents to €645 per sq m upwards for newly developed Grade A offices. 

The next generation of office developments in Ballsbridge includes U&I’s Carrisbrook House, Irish Life’s Hume House and Albany Homes’ 35 Shelbourne Road, all of which are due to be delivered in the next two to three years. 

 

• Kenneth Rouse (pictured) is Managing Director of BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland. He has been involved in over €750m of commercial real estate transactions since joining BNPPRE in 2014.

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