After almost a decade in the doldrums, renewed activity is expected across a number of fronts in Cork city’s docklands and quays in 2016, with knock-on effects on major sites downriver in Cork harbour including Marino Point and Ringaskiddy.
The expected full take-up of offices at One Albert Quay, on its completion in February, will be the brightest star.
But, decanting of port-related activity downriver is finally expected to flow also, as key pieces of infrastructure fall into place, and as demolition of old grain silos continues, inching site development hopes all the closer.
Among the significant jig-saw pieces now falling into place is the pending acquisition of the former IFI plant on 114 acres at Marino Point by a consortium of private investors, with Port of Cork and agri-industry support.
The strategic Cork harbour site, with jetty and rail link went to best bids with DTZ over a year ago, guiding at €7 million; business sources now say the buyers may include the O’Regan family, who have broad Munster transport and logistics business interests, along with wealthy Northern Ireland investor Tommy O’Gorman.
Mr O’Gorman has been an active and astute purchaser of distressed and price discounted assets nationwide.
He bought the Blarney Resort in 2014 for €2.5m, and has been in behind-the-scenes talks with other possible new purchasers of his Blarney property, which includes the hotel, lodges and golf course.
Contacted yesterday, Mr O’Gorman said he wasn’t in a position to comment on reports of his consortium involvement in buying Marino Point.
Issues over foreshore licences and State inter-departmental issues have delayed the IFI site sale’s conclusion.
Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating yesterday confirmed the Port’s interest in using the facility once it is acquired, but said details of the consortium’s purchase and user agreements remained confidential at present.
This year’s final grant of planning by Bord Pleanala for a revised expansion of port activities at Ringaskiddy will see Port of Cork commence moves from the city, its quays and in the longer term from Tivoli.
Marino Point and Ringaskiddy wil take on new roles, driving interest in logistics sites in south Cork/Ringaskiddy and in Little Island/East Cork.
The latter’s locational draw is evidenced by the strong interest in last week’s ‘best bids’ sale of the Mitsui Denman 32 acre site, next to East Gate Business Park, making well over its €2.2m guide with no confirmation yet of a buyer via Cohalan Downing.
Local buying interest was to the fore. Likely too to have an interest in making new uses of Marino Point is agri-services giant Origin, who own 30 acres at Cork’s south dock and who recently demolished a number of their silos on Kennedy Quay, by the iconic R&H Hall building.
Marino Point last sold in 2003, bought then for €23 million by the now deceased Hugh O’Regan of the Thomas Read chain of pubs, with some Cork investor interests.
Mr O’Regan was also involved in an investment of €180 million at Kilternan in south Co Dublin. Kilternan was bought last year by the Comer Group, for €7 million.
Meanwhile, following completion of One Albert Quay, Cork’s city centre’s new, downriver Central Business District (CBD) still has valuable office development sites on the north and south docks, at Anderson’s Quay, Albert Quay/Navigation House, and at Horgan’s Quay where CIE currently is offering six acres for a joint development at Kent Station, offering a 300 year lease.
Tender date for Horgan’s Quay is December 16, via Downing Commercial.