Homes for all is our aim, says Bartra Homes development director

23rd September 2018

Luxury mews and pads for empty-nesters are in the pipeline for Bartra Homes, a director tells Linda Daly

Grainne Hollywood says the company is focusing on the higher end of the market, but consultation is under way for a development of build-to-rent and shared-living homes

Morehampton Lane, a cul-de-sac of mews homes to the back of Morehampton Road, was abuzz with activity last week. Cars and vans lined the road, but it was at the bottom of the lane where work was being finalised on Nos 29-32 Morehampton Lane, the second scheme in the growing Bartra Homes stable to be completed.

Grainne Hollywood, development and construction director with Bartra, was making her weekly visit to ensure the show house would be completed on schedule. There was still some work to be done on the four-house scheme, which is being built on the former home of the late Gillian Bowler. Bartra bought the land for €3.2m last year with planning permission for four mews-style houses. It is building them under its Bartra Homes luxury brand, and aims to sell three for about €2m each, with a fourth, smaller, two-storey house going for less than that.

For Bartra, who brought in Midland Construction to work on the project, Morehampton Lane is the culmination of a 14-month build, but one of many that are in progress for the company. Its residential fund will eventually include a mix of private residential, build-to-rent and shared-living accommodation.

Bartra Capital was set up in 2015 by Richard Barrett, formerly one half of Treasury Holdings — Johnny Ronan was the other — who assembled a team of experts, including Hollywood, a one-time property director with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and consultant for Hibernia Reit.

Since its property fund was launched in 2016, the company has been buying sites around the city. Bartra Homes now has 140 new apartments or houses in the planning process or under construction, with many more to come.

“With some of these schemes, like Morehampton Lane and Glenart, we are focusing on the higher end of the market,” Hollywood told me a few days earlier at the company’s offices at Longphort House, off St Stephen’s Green. “It’s a liquid part of the market, as we’re not dependent on people seeking large mortgages.”

Bartra paid €3.25m for Kinvara, on Glenart Avenue, a modest mid 20th- century detached house on a large site in Blackrock, and has turned it into four five- and six-bedroom homes, selling for €2.2m-€2.25m. One of the houses achieved sale agreed status before the scheme was launched last month; it and another is close to completion.

Glensavage, in Blackrock, is next on its list. After facing resistance from locals over the building of 22 Scandinavian-style homes on the 2.32 acre site, Bartra was finally granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanala in July. It will build three, single-storey gate lodges that range in size from 315 sq m to 449 sq m and 14 apartments, with floor areas from 75 sq m to 135 sq m.

“There’s a housing crisis at the moment — there’s nothing being built of this nature. The locals thought there would be overdevelopment on the site but Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council wanted density and we were delighted that they wanted to work with us to get that density,” says Hollywood.

The tender process for the contractor will end this week, and Hollywood expects construction to start by November, with completion by January or February 2020.

There are more schemes in the pipeline, including Nos 14-16 Dartry Road, in Dublin 6, where three Georgian houses are being renovated and three mews houses are being built to the back of them. Work will be finished within 12 months. In Blackrock, Bartra is awaiting a decision on a planning application for 26 one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed by Cantrell & Crowley, at its 0.7 acre Woodlands site, formerly owned by Ray Stafford, of Sudocrem, the antiseptic skin cream brand. If permission is granted, the properties should come to market in 2020.

The four-house Morehampton Lane scheme, off Herbert Park in Donnybrook, is on the site of the home of the late Gillian Bowler; Bartra plans to sell the three larger properties for about €2m each
The four-house Morehampton Lane scheme, off Herbert Park in Donnybrook, is on the site of the home of the late Gillian Bowler; Bartra plans to sell the three larger properties for about €2m each

“We’re keen to look at what we call step-down apartments for empty-nesters — these are larger apartments than are currently being built. There are few apartments being developed for mature couples to leave their big family home for somewhere they can take their furniture.”

Another scheme that will cater for this market is No 98 Merrion Road, which is in the planning stages for 20 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in a five- storey building. The three-bedders will measure 200 sq m.

Further out in Dalkey, Bartra Capital has had to take its planning application for a 1.45 acre site adjoining Bulloch Harbour to An Bord Pleanala, after residents, including singer Christy Moore and comedian Tommy Tiernan, objected and planners rejected the plan. Hollywood says if the company “ever gets planning” it will knock down industrial buildings and replace them with three houses, two apartments, a cafe and a boat- building workshop.

Bartra owns another 1.5 acre site at the harbour, and is in the process of drafting an application for houses and apartments for its Yonder Project.

For now the company is focused on Dublin. Other schemes include 21 apartments on Ardee Road, in Rathmines, an apartment complex on Eblana Avenue, in Dun Laoghaire, 36 apartments on the site of Brady’s Castleknock Inn, on Old Navan Road, and 52 build-to-rent apartments in Ballybough. The company has also bought eight of the 46 apartments at Ardoyne House, in Ballsbridge, as part of a move to redevelop the 12-storey block.

To complete all of these projects, Bartra must hire contractors, but Hollywood says the industry is under pressure to find good ones.

“Hopefully, we’ll encourage people back to Ireland but it is a double-edged sword because the foreign nationals that were here working have gone back to their own countries,” she says. “Even if they wanted to come back, they can’t, because they can’t afford to rent. How do you solve the industry problem without solving the housing problem first?”

Build-to-rent, shared living “for 25- to 32-year-olds” and social housing will have some role in solving the housing shortage, she believes, all of which Bartra wants to have a hand in building.

“We’ve three projects in the pipeline for communal living and we’re getting ready to lodge planning applications on them — in Rathmines, in Dun Laoghaire and Blanchardstown. Under the residential guidelines they have to be next to excellent forms of public transport.”

Hollywood rejects the claim that shared living accommodation is a return to the days of bedsits. “When you think of bedsit land, it had 10 to 20 people living in a bedroom in a house, with a lavatory and a bathroom at the end of a corridor, and a horrible little kitchen,” she says.

“Our schemes are going to be beautifully designed and we’re working hard on the concept. We’ll have cinema rooms, gyms, party rooms, libraries and communal kitchens on every floor, as well as roof spaces. It will be closer to a three-star hotel than a bedsit.

“It will solve an awful lot of the problems of isolation and loneliness of people coming to a new country.”

Bartra meanwhile, is in pre-application consultations with An Bord Pleanala about the development of 351 homes at Cookstown industrial estate in Tallaght, comprising 158 build-to-rent apartments and 193 shared-living homes. This will be the biggest of its developments to date.

Hollywood says the company plans to become an important player in Ireland’s residential market. Barrett has said he wants Bartra to be the biggest social-housing provider in the state — under its social housing arm — but Hollywood won’t be drawn on a projected annual construction figure. “You have to read the market carefully and not overdevelop one type of thing, otherwise you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. We’ll take opportunities as they come to us. If we like the look of a site, we’ll do a detailed appraisal and go for it,” she says.

“We’re here for the long haul and we want to create a Bartra brand, so that when someone says, ‘this is a Bartra residential product’, it will be high quality. It doesn’t necessarily mean high price, but fit-outs that will look good for 10 years and more, not something that is fashionable today and looks gaudy tomorrow.”

New homes: spacious places for growing families

Gifts galore in Stocking Avenue, from €415,000

Stocking Avenue, in Rathfarnham, has been full of activity since the building industry kicked off again a couple of years ago. The latest housing scheme, along the northern side of the avenue, is White Pines, a development of 175 three-, four- and five-bedroom homes. The developer, Ardstone Homes, is releasing the second phase this weekend — 45 homes have sold since the launch in April, and 35 will be available this time round.

Prices start at €420,000 for the 101 sq m, three-bedroom mid-terrace; the 130 sq m four-bedders cost from €490,000 and the 142 sq m four-bedders are from €499,950. The development is a couple of minutes from Massey’s Wood and the Hell Fire Club. The showhouse will be open from 12pm-2pm today.

Stop the presses for Sycamore grovefrom €475,000

Sycamore Grove is a development of 14 houses on Grove Road between Finglas East and Glasnevin North, in Dublin 11. The scheme sits on the site of a former printworks. Built by Treverbyn Properties, it comprises a mix of four-bedroom terrace and semi-detached homes. The development was designed by NBK Architects, and each house has a brick elevation and “practical” layout. The houses have back gardens and there are 21 car parking spaces in a forecourt to the front.

Prices start from €475,000, for the mid-terrace houses, to more than €490,000 for the semi-detached homes. There isn’t too much of a difference in size: floor areas range from 130 sq m to 135 sq m. The showhouse will be on view from 11.30am to 1pm today.

Riverside walks to the aviva Stadium, €950,000

Large houses in Dublin’s Ringsend are a rarity. Most homes in the area are terrace houses and apartments. That’s why the completion of four, three-storey houses at Fitzwilliam Quay was much anticipated by professionals.

The marble-fronted homes, which look over the River Dodder, each measure 154 sq m and have four bedrooms, a walk-in wardrobe in the master, and fully tiled bathrooms and en suites. The outdoor space is up on the roof. Each house has a roof terrace with views towards the Aviva stadium.

The scheme is less than 15 minutes’ walk to the stadium in one direction and Grand Canal Dock in the other. There’s a pleasant walk around the Dodder towards the Aviva, too. Viewing is by appointment.

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