There’s a scene in the film No Country for Old Men which has two police officers observing the aftermath of a shootout with dead bodies strewn about the desert. There’s a brief exchange between the pair. “It’s a mess, ain’t it Sheriff ? If it ain’t it’ll do till a mess gets here.”
Millennium Park, once much hyped as a visionary concept of how bright the future of business in Naas will be, is in the news again.
The place has been on the market for about two months and a sale deal may be just around the corner.
Naas resident Michael McElligott is, according to the Irish Times, among those involved in the purchase.
He is associated with an entity known as Tetrarch, which was previously known as Brehon Capital which bought out, among others, the Killashee House Hotel.
Tetrarch appears to have an interest in acquiring commercial properties that were, shall we say, a little overpriced in the boom years. And now that the tides of optimism have ebbed and ebbed the bargains have been exposed.
Viewed through the prism of euros, Millennium Park looks like the last-of-the-few-choc-ices-left bargain. In 2006 Millennium Park’s 330 acres was bought by a group of developers, with AIB support, from Gerry Conlan, also a Naas resident.
The buyers included Gerry Prendergast, Thomas Considine and Patrick Sweeney. Mr Prendergast also lives in Naas and has effectively managed MP on behalf of Nama. By 2010 the value of MP had fallen to around to €38m - €3m more than Tetrarch may buy it for. So, some €285m has disappeared into the ether.
And don’t think because you don’t sit in a glass fronted office six floors above the ground with a nice view of the city that this has nothing to do with you.
Some of this is being paid for by income tax, PRSI, property tax, USC, water charges VAT, not to mention the vast array of social welfare cuts and ever increasing hospital delays both for emergency treatment and surgery.
It has to be a good thing that it’s being sold off. Today its vast acreage looks like a safari park waiting for the animals to turn up; bisected by a proper road, free of potholes.
Along this road are a number of large green-coloured signs put up by the auctioneer advertising the sale.
“A development and investment opportunity,” purr the signs - one of which is obscured by vegetation.
There’s nothing wrong with what Tetrarch is doing. Its the business equivalent of spotting a pair of Levi’s 501s , which actually fit, on sale for 5 cents.
And there is the prospect of employment in this area when more enterprises move in.
There are other Celtic Tiger mishaps likely to be offloaded like The Waterways in Sallins and possibly the Naas Shopping Centre – as Nama administers a laxative to rid the place of the financial vanities of the Celtic Tiger era.
If it ain’t a mess...
- Paul O’Meara
- This opinion piece first appeared in the Leinster Leader, dated July 14, 2015