Historic O’Connell Bridge building sells for €3.5m

A Dublin businessman has bought the Lafayette Building overlooking O’Connell Bridge in Dublin 2 for €3.5 million. The successful bidder was one of five who pitched for the landmark block at the junction of Westmoreland Street and D’Olier Street which was sold by a receiver for the former Bank of Scotland Ireland.

The six-storey over basement building was redeveloped in the early 1990s by the now insolvent Treasury Holdings which converted the three top floors into 14 apartments and subsequently sold them off as buy-to-let units.

The latest sale includes 1,797 sq m (19,345 sq ft) at basement, ground, first, second and part of the third floors which are currently producing a rental income of €625,345. Most of the rent-€520,000-comes from Manchester United soccer club which closed its retail unit within two years of launching it and remains locked into a 15 year lease until August, 2015. Even when the lease ends, the club will still have to pay a penalty of 9 months’ rent. In the meantime, the club has sub-let its space to the Lafayette Bar and Café which uses part of the premises as a night club.

The second and third floors are let to the Blood Bank at a rent of €105,00 per annum.

With the Manchester rental income due to continue until the middle of 2016, the new owner should be able to cash in on the arrival of the new Luas Cross-City line which is to have a stop right outside the front door of the Lafayette building.

Rod Nowlan of Bannon,who handled the sale, said that because of the looped nature of the new Luas line, the new Westmoreland Street stop was likely to be one of the busiest on the entire network.

The Lafayett Building dates from the 1890s and got its name from the Lafayette family of photographers who had their main studio in the building. After photographingPrincess Alexandra during a royal visit to Ireland, James Lafayette was invited to photograph her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle. The Royal patronage led to the opening of studios in Glasgow, Manchester, Belfast and London. The Dublin branch was sold off in 1961 and continues to trade. SOurce: The Irish Times