Plans to build the tallest building in Ireland — with new recording studios for Irish supergroup U2 on top — were suspended Friday because of Dublin’s slumping property market and slide into recession.
The Dublin Docklands Development Authority said it remains committed to building the long-planned U2 Tower, but a souring economy at home and abroad means the project must be shelved. It expressed hope of reopening negotiations with potential developers within 12 months.
“The objective is to see this landmark project completed. However, given the current unfavorable economic environment, more time is needed at this juncture,” the Dublin development agency said in a statement, adding it was “confident that these economic uncertainties are short- to medium-term.”
The project shelving caps a six-year struggle and three rounds of architectural competition to build a U2 Tower. It raises doubts about whether the current lavish design, by world-renowned British architect Norman Foster, will ever get beyond the draftsman’s board.
The projected $250 million construction would have dominated the low-rise skyline of Dublin, where conservationists have successfully shot down other skyscraper projects.
But Foster’s U2 Tower presumed the sale of more than 180 apartments at more than $1.3 million each. That might have been easy as recently as a year ago — when Irish investors were still pouring money into luxury apartments and town houses — but seems far-fetched now.
Ireland this year became the first member of the 15-nation euro zone to fall into recession and a decade-old boom in property prices fell swiftly into reverse, bringing sales activity to a standstill. An estimated 20,000 newly built residences lie unsold in this country of 4.2 million.
Foster envisioned a 400-foot triangular tower on the south bank of Dublin’s River Liffey with an egg-shaped pod housing U2’s new recording studios on top. That would give Bono and his bandmates a view at least twice as tall as any other building in Dublin.
The proposed roof also would house wind-generated electrical turbines and solar paneling, while two sides would be metal-paneled to look like fish scales. Riverside traffic would be permitted to flow through the base of the building.
Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen all would have had a financial stake in the U2 Tower because they are partial owners of a development consortium awarded the construction contract last year. That agreement now has been set aside.
The U2 band members are among Ireland’s wealthiest citizens and have invested together in a wide range of Dublin properties, including a luxury riverside hotel that is earmarked for its own futuristic Foster overhaul.