He is one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, a whiskey entrepreneur and a publican. Now add property developer to the many hats worn by Conor McGregor, who topped the Forbes top 10 athlete rich list with estimated earnings of $180 million in the 12 months from May 2020 to May 2021. The MMA fighter has almost finished assembling a large site on the Davitt Road near the Grand Canal in his hometown of Dublin 12 for a total cost of about €19 million, and he could spend €100 million on it by the time he has finished developing what will be a new residential quarter.
McGregor closed this week the purchase of the former Heidelberg / Miller building and SCR Garage sites for about €15 million. He has also bought the adjoining Marble Arch pub for about €1.5 million, and he is near buying another site for a few million more that formerly housed a paint shop after exchanging contracts to buy it.
The combined three sites will allow McGregor to create a large new area where he could develop around 300 apartments as well as other commercial units in what will be one of the biggest new residential projects in Dublin 12 in the last decade.
The former Heidelberg / Miller building and SCR Garage sites have already secured planning permission for 188 build-to-rent apartments plus two commercial units and a public realm area. Adding in the site of the Marble Arch Pub and the former paint shop site and McGregor could house over 100 housing units more if he gets planning permission for these sites which are beside the Luas.
McGregor is believed to be hoping to develop at least part of this second site, which doesn’t yet have planning permission, as social and affordable housing. This is as badly needed in the Dublin 12 area, as it is everywhere in the capital.
Whether McGregor will be able to get planning permission to retain the Marble Arch pub on the site of what will become a new residential area is as yet unknown. Whether he wants to keep the pub is also unknown. McGregor could redevelop the Marble Arch as a restaurant or bistro that would be more attractive to planners who might be wary of approving a late-night pub in a newly built-up residential area.
McGregor’s love of Dublin 12 is well known. He has an existing gourmet pub business there after he spent millions redeveloping the Black Forge Inn, and he named his successful whiskey after the area. He also has a strong connection to the Davitt Road site in particular. It is where he punched a man – who did not suffer any injuries other than a sore face – after he refused McGregor’s offer of a drink of his own brand of whiskey, but it was also the scene of a make-or-break moment in his early fighting career.
McGregor has said the site resonates with him because it was there that his father, Tony, gave him an ultimatum in relation to his fledgling fighting career. McGregor recalled the incident ahead of Irish UFC fighter Ian Garry’s fight in Madison Square Garden in New York. “I was fighting in the good counsel gaa club in Drimnagh years and years ago, and on the morning of the fight me da said to me ‘if you lose this are you going to get a real job?’ On the morning of. I’m gonna ring him and sack him now. ‘Da, you’re sacked. get the f*** off my yacht.’”
McGregor then for a period of time revealed that he had bought the site of this incident and tweeted a picture outlining where the site is, but the tweet later disappeared. The disappeared Tweet on November 6 said: “This is the strip of canal where that exact gaa club is. Davitt Road, Driminagh. Where my father told me if I lose, get a real job. I bought the whole thing today. That whole canal strip is now mine. From the marble arch down. Watch what I build here ahahahaha.”
When he tweeted, McGregor, while very close, hadn’t yet bought the site. McGregor now has two out of three parts of the site and he has exchanged contracts on the final piece of the jigsaw, the old paint shop site. What exactly he plans to build there remains to emerge, but he can now add property developer to his titles.