Department of Justice HQ up for sale

The current Irish Department of Justice Headquarters, which was originally the Centenary Church of Ireland, immediately adjacent to the KPMG Headquarters on St Stephen’s Green, is being offered for sale through Savills, on behalf of the investment management group SW3 Capital.  

In its present state No. 94 St Stephen’s Green comprises a landmark office headquarters with pillared listed façade and a modern office extension to the rear. The four-storey over basement office building benefits from a prestigious entrance hallway and reception, which would have greeted the Centenary Church congregation in the mid 1800’s. Also included in the sale is a Townhouse Residence immediately adjacent, which fronts onto St Stephen’s Green. 

Part of the original structure dates back as far as 1841, when the Centenary Church purchased the subject site for their Irish Headquarters.  It is documented that on Sunday the 22nd of December 1968, the church burnt down, bringing to an end a 127 year association which the church had with the property on St Stephen’s Green. The site was subsequently sold by the church and it is understood that the money raised from the sale, and fire insurance, helped facilitate the purchase of many of the Methodist Centenary linked facilities in Dublin today.  One such facility is Wesley House in Leeson Park, Dublin 6.   

Today the entire property extends to an overall floor area of 2,067 sq m (22,245 sq ft), however a new buyer is likely to avail of the prospect of upgrading the property and potentially adding a significant amount of floor area, via a new penthouse floor. 

The property, including the Townhouse is let to The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland under two co-terminus leases and is currently occupied by the Irish Department of Justice. The current annual rent being paid by the state is €1,020,000, which can be analysed as approximately €45.85 per sq ft. 

A purchaser will have the ability to consider a substantial upgrade of both the office headquarters and Townhouse Residence in June 2018, upon expiry of the existing leases. The prospect of delivering a Grade A office building and Townhouse with associated prestige, in this location will certainly be attractive to many investor types.  There is also the perspective of an owner occupier, Brexit fall-out tenant or international embassy viewing this as a once in a Generation opportunity to own their own headquarters and residence on St Stephen’s Green.   

No. 94 St Stephen’s Green certainly presents the appearance of a stately headquarters, and many sources in the market have been speculating whether or not the state may present an interest in acquiring the property given their long standing association, and its obvious proximity to the Dail. 

Dessie Kilkenny of Savills commented: “This is certainly one of the most exciting asset management opportunities, in a truly prime district, to have ever been offered for sale in Ireland.  The benefit of strong state income, coupled with the prospects of an upgrade project in the near future are extremely rare in this type of location.  I expect the prestige and history associated with the property will draw an array of investor types, owner occupiers and developers to consider the opportunity.”

The office element comprises a mix of cellular and open plan accommodation extending to 1,823.7 sq m (19,630 sq ft) with 20 basement car parking spaces.  Access to the office accommodation is via two separate entrances at the front of the building; the main entrance and a secondary staff entrance.  

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Unusually, the sale also includes a very rare and separately accessed period Townhouse Residence. The residential element could be utilised as one single townhouse or alternatively separated into three stylish apartments and one duplex. This part of the property is accessed via Stokes Place and benefits from views over St. Stephen’s Green. 

Since 2012, SW3 have been extremely active in the Irish Real Estate market, having acquired numerous assets very early in the current cycle.  Like many of the early movers, they are now seeking to capitalise on the historically strong office leasing market and the current demand from international institutional investors and owner occupiers seeking centrally located assets.  Some of their other holdings include properties on Dawson Street, College Green, Aungier Street and Dun Laoghaire. The investment management group is jointly led by Adam Rooney, Tom O’Mahony and Ned Truman.

The asking price of €20 million reflects a current initial yield of close to 5% and a capital value of €899 per sq ft.