Crushing blow for Portlaoise
Portlaoise GAA was left reeling last night when it was confirmed that Firestone Developments had pulled out of the deal to build retail and residential properties on the site of the clubs grounds, saddling it with a debt of 6.5 million.
The Cork-based developers have pulled the plug in the wake of An Bord Pleanlas decision to refuse planning permission for the proposed development.
This leaves Portlaoise in significant trouble as, at present, they own two sites at a time when the property market is in meltdown.
More immediately, they now owe Firestone 6.5 million in advance payments made to them to facilitate the purchase of a replacement facility in Rathleague last March.
Work has already begun on Portlaoises new complex in anticipation of Firestone receiving planning permission for their ambitious development.
The club are to hold an egm on Sunday week to discuss the implications of this blow.
Firestone director John Keating described what had happened as disappointing, but refused to comment on what would happen now with regard to monies owed.
From our point of view it is very disappointing, and the refusal by An Bord Pleanla to grant planning permission sees the conclusion for us in this project, he said.
The likelihood is that Portlaoise will try to sell their current facility, which is situated behind the county grounds of OMoore Park on the Cork Road, and continue development of the new home on a smaller scale.
However, based on two independent valuations carried out recently, the value of the property has plummeted from 19 million to between 10 million and 13 million.
Another problem for Portlaoise is that the land now has a failed planning application attached with it, making it a less attractive prospect for developers than had been the case.
To that end, the club plan to apply for a judicial review of An Bord Pleanlas decision.