New valuation shows University of Limerick paid €1.5million over market price for city campus site

The UL City Centre campus on Sarsfield Street.

THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick (UL) paid €1.5million over market value for its controversial campus site, it has emerged.

In documents released this week, UL said that it had engaged the valuation services of Power Property, who prepared a report in December 2023 for the university reflecting the value of the former Dunnes Stores site on Sarsfield Street in Limerick City for both April 2019 and September 2023.

Valuers put the Red Book value of the controversial site in 2019 at €6.5 million. The university purchased the building the same year for €8.3million, without having gotten any formal valuations as to what the property was worth at the time.

The purchase was the subject of UL’s appearance at a meeting of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee in May of last year.

The most recent valuation for the property, undertaken in September 2023, found that the building would now be worth €5.58million – an almost €3million loss on what the university paid in 2019.

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The building had been previously valued in 2017 and had been worth an estimated €3million at the time.

UL will now write off over €3million in payments made for the former Dunnes Stores building.

In an email sent to UL staff on Wednesday (January 31), UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said that the university had been left with an “impairment charge” (an accounting practice used to write down an asset’s value) of €3,043,748.

“UL is working with PWC on reflecting this transaction in the Financial Statements to 30 September 2023. This will also be agreed with the Comptroller and Auditor General before submission of the financial statements to the March meeting of the Governing Authority for approval,” the email read.

Plans to progress the site for use as the university’s city campus are ongoing, with UL meeting with members of Limerick City and County Council to establish a working group to progress the business case for the future of the UL City Campus.

“The sustainable development of the site is a key project for the revitalisation of the city and a vital part of the Limerick World Class Waterfront project, which was awarded some URDF funding in 2022,” the staff email continued.

“As owners of this strategic city centre site, it presents an excellent development opportunity for the university.”