Friday, September 7, 2012

Priory Hall in Dublin

I have read and heard many tragic stories since the real estate bust of 2008 but this case from Dublin, Ireland is the worst I can imagine.

Priory Hall is a large and now abandoned apartment complex surrounded by chain link fencing.  In October 2011, the local city government declared the entire building a fire hazard and ordered all 256 residents in 187 apartments to leave on just 48 hours notice.  The Dublin City Council has already spent more than $2 million housing the now homeless residents and is refusing to pay any more for their upkeep.

But here is where the problems just begin.

The vacant apartments have now become overrun with squatters and vandals who are destroying the property while the legal residents are prevented from returning.  Priory Hall is rotting, infested with rats, mold, and garbage.

Of course, all the residents still have to make their mortgage and tax payments on their condemned, vacant, and deteriorating units.

But here is where the story gets strange.

The developer of this mess is Tom McFeely, a former IRA hunger striker from Northern Ireland (please do not confuse the two Irelands!)   He went from urban terrorist who spent 53 days without food in 1980 to support the IRA to real estate developer and a $12 million home in Dublin.  Now his home is gone (foreclosure), he has been sentenced to jail for not making repairs to Priory Hall, and even forced into bankruptcy against his will.

For construction aficionados this property's building reeks of incompetence.  Windows were installed backwards so every time it rained apartments flooded.  Pipes burst on a routine basis filing the complex from the parking garage to the units themselves with feet of water.  The building was so dangerous that the Dublin City Council moved its 26 tenants out of the building in 2009 after declaring the building a fire hazard BUT allowed those who owned their apartments to remain!

The facts of this case study are UNBELIEVABLE.  I'm only scratching the surface here.

What makes this case so sad is there are more than 2,000 ghost developments across Ireland today.

What makes this case so dramatic is Ireland is the size of the state of Indiana.  Very small.

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