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Architects’ vision needed to kickstart NAMA’s €72.3bn property holdings

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Newly inaugurated RIAI president Michelle Fagan has said architects could play a role in reactivating derelict development sites held by Irish bad bank NAMA

NAMA was set up by the Irish government following the country’s 2009 financial crisis to manage €72.3 billion worth of property debt.

The controversial state guaranteed bank – created to bailout the Irish banking system – is tasked with realising the best possible value of nonperforming assets loaned before the country’s property bubble burst.

Fagan called on the public to work with architects to identify new uses for moribund development plots in the ‘short, medium and even long-term.’

In an interview with The Irish Times, she said: ‘There are derelict sites in nearly every town and village [linked to NAMA], and it’s very good idea to get an architect in – not just leave it to estate agents and landowners.

‘It’s through that kind of bottom-up, rather than top-down, approach that you can create energy.’

She said architects had the necessary three-dimensional skills to make them more suitable for developing briefs for such sites. She added that 14 per cent of architects in Ireland are unemployed and the profession has ideal training to help out.

NAMA is thought to be one of the world’s largest property companies but is not a property developer in the conventional sense.

A NAMA spokesperson explained: ‘There seems to be a misapprehension about what NAMA is and what it can do.

‘NAMA has acquired loans not properties or sites and while those loans are typically “secured” by properties or sites, the agency does not directly control the underlying securities.

‘The focus of the agency is on securing the repayment of the loans linked to these properties and typically this will require, over time, the sale of these properties or the refinancing of linked debts. 

‘NAMA may advance further working capital to some debtors to undertake developments on sites linked to loans held by the agency or to finish off developments already commenced.

‘The agency will be happy to consider proposals from interested parties but the key factor in its decision making will be the commercial return expected from the investment - and the extent to which that will enable the debtor to pay  down loans with the agency.’

The agency’s website lists 1,057 properties which are subject to enforcement action and could be sold off.

NAMA has approved asset sales of €6.2 billion since March 2010 with 80 per cent of these sales relating to assets located outside Ireland.

Rafael Viñoly’s £5.5 billion redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in south London went into administration after Lloyds and NAMA recalled £324 million of debt from the project.

Ernst and Young has been appointed to sell off the Grade II-listed building and surrounding land assets.

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