London-based alternative lender Cheyne Capital has provided an €80 million senior loan to a joint venture between US real estate company Hines and Peterson Group, a real estate family business owned by Hong Kong’s Yeung family, to refinance the Central Plaza mixed-use scheme in Dublin.
The loan will replace an existing construction facility – understood to have been provided by UK bank HSBC – and will support fit-out works at the of property, which was originally the home of the Central Bank of Ireland.
Cheyne said the loan will support the completion and stabilisation of the scheme. Hines bought the cluster of five buildings in 2017 and has since undertaken a comprehensive redevelopment.
Central Plaza comprises 100,000 square feet of grade A office space, in which troubled flexible workspace provider WeWork is due to open a 73,000 square feet co-working space in May 2024. The scheme also has 65,000 square feet of retail and leisure space. In total, the project has 13 tenants.
“Key reasons for making this loan are the strong sponsorship that so far has managed to execute a complicated extensive refurbishment and the asset’s high quality and strong target ESG credentials, including BREEAM ‘Excellent’, LEED Gold and a net-zero carbon status,” said Andreas Dimitriou, part of the real estate team at Cheyne.
WeWork – which was widely reported on 1 November to be close to filing for bankruptcy in the US – announced in September it was commencing its fit-out of One Central Plaza, ahead of next May’s opening.
Cheyne is understood to have been given assurances WeWork has financially committed to the asset. The lender declined to comment about news of a potential WeWork bankruptcy.
According to an Irish Independent article on 31 October, Hines recently said WeWork’s renegotiation of some of its leases will not have “any impact on the commercial agreement in place for One Central Plaza”.
In an article published on 2 November, the BBC said WeWork members at a building on London’s Southbank said they had been emailed by the company telling them it was closing “unprofitable” sites and asking them to vacate by 30 November. However, the BBC said WeWork had provided it with a statement saying it is “fully committed” to the UK and Ireland.
At the time it announced its One Central Plaza fit-out, WeWork said its Dublin assets were performing well with a 90 percent occupancy rate from businesses of all sizes, which it said shows the city is warming to the flexible office model.
Designed by architect Sam Stephenson in the 1970s, the Central Plaza buildings were acquired by Hines and Peterson following the Central Bank’s relocation to new premises on North Wall Quay. The partnership’s redevelopment of the mixed-use building completed in 2022.