The Mill apartments, Ballisodare

Yesterday I took a walk around The Mill apartment complex in Ballisodare. The project of 75 apartments was built on the site of a beautiful old mill on the Owenmore river about 5 miles from Sligo town. Finished in 2006, it was billed as “a property that simply has it all”, with 2 bedroom apartments starting from €320,000.

the-mill-2

Things didn’t quite work out that way and it looks like hardly anyone ever moved in. I heard stories of dampness issues with the building that delayed sales of the apartments. I guess when 2008 came around it was doomed. There are no warning signs telling you not to enter, I did not have to jump any gates or wall to get in. I simply walked from the main road down and in the front door.

It is like a scene from ’28 days later’ inside. Windows are smashed, partition walls are kicked in, the large dark empty car park has had all of its wiring and cables stripped. There are screws all over the floor from all of the doors and fittings that have been removed. Copper water tanks have been long ripped out of each apartment.

Its a shame that this place was built in place of the old mill which stood for over a century, but its a tragedy that it was not maintained and used to house someone. It must have cost between €5m and €10m to build and now its worth nothing. Water and electricity are cut off and the only sounds are the dying batteries in the smoke alarms.

Remember that this development was pretty much finished and ready for tenants in 2006.

I found the text for the original brochure on the way back machine so I will use it to contrast how it all looks now…

"Look out your window and bathe in the breathtaking beauty of the Ballisodare River. With its abundant supply of wild salmon and bubbling rapids it's a magnet for anglers ... relax over dinner and let your thoughts drift with the current of the river." - from the brochure
“Look out your window and bathe in the breathtaking beauty of the Ballisodare River. With its abundant supply of wild salmon and bubbling rapids it’s a magnet for anglers … relax over dinner and let your thoughts drift with the current of the river.” – from the brochure
" All of these apartments have generous living areas and cleverly laid out kitchens ... Whatever shape or style of apartment you'd like, you'll find it at the Mill." - from the brochure
” All of these apartments have generous living areas and cleverly laid out kitchens … Whatever shape or style of apartment you’d like, you’ll find it at the Mill.” – from the brochure
"They say God is in the detail and here attention to detail is second to none...at the Mill quality is everywhere you look. And that quality is protected by a 10-year home bond guarantee." - from the brochure
“They say God is in the detail and here attention to detail is second to none…at the Mill quality is everywhere you look. And that quality is protected by a 10-year home bond guarantee.” – from the brochure
"all the living areas face out into the lovingly landscaped courtyard. Here children can play safely and always within view or you could just put your feet up in the sun and enjoy a good book." - from the brochure
“all the living areas face out into the lovingly landscaped courtyard. Here children can play safely and always within view or you could just put your feet up in the sun and enjoy a good book.” – from the brochure
"Walk inside any of the apartments at the Mill and you'll start to notice things. There are ash veneered doors, a fully fitted kitchen with granite worktop and first class tiling throughout the kitchens and bathrooms. Bathrooms have semi recessed sinks and all bedrooms come with built in wardrobes." - from the brochure
“Walk inside any of the apartments at the Mill and you’ll start to notice things. There are ash veneered doors, a fully fitted kitchen with granite worktop and first class tiling throughout the kitchens and bathrooms. Bathrooms have semi recessed sinks and all bedrooms come with built in wardrobes.” – from the brochure
"All apartments at The Mill come with the latest in high tech spec. Intercom systems come as standard. What's more, broadband internet and cabling for state of the art entertainment systems has been fitted throughout. " - from the brochure
“All apartments at The Mill come with the latest in high tech spec. Intercom systems come as standard. What’s more, broadband internet and cabling for state of the art entertainment systems has been fitted throughout. ” – from the brochure
" If home is what you make it, then you couldn't make it better than this. Whether you're buying your first home, planning to invest, looking for a holiday home or simply looking for a taste of the good life, at the Mill you'll be rewarded with a property that simply has it all." - from the brochure
” If home is what you make it, then you couldn’t make it better than this. Whether you’re buying your first home, planning to invest, looking for a holiday home or simply looking for a taste of the good life, at the Mill you’ll be rewarded with a property that simply has it all.” – from the brochure
"Often the problem with apartment living can be storage space. Having space for stuff shouldn't be a luxury and at the Mill it isn't." - from the brochure
“Often the problem with apartment living can be storage space. Having space for stuff shouldn’t be a luxury and at the Mill it isn’t.” – from the brochure
"Every inch of the Mill has been architecturally designed to maximise, light, space and style ... The Mill's brave design sets a new standard in apartment living." - from the brochure
“Every inch of the Mill has been architecturally designed to maximise, light, space and style … The Mill’s brave design sets a new standard in apartment living.” – from the brochure
"And with the warm glow of Goldshield electric heating always on, these apartments are energy efficient too!" - from the brochure
“And with the warm glow of Goldshield electric heating always on, these apartments are energy efficient too!” – from the brochure

I feel bad for the people that live near here. It must be depressing to look at this everyday.

80 thoughts on “The Mill apartments, Ballisodare”

  1. Wow. I remember these going up. While the rumor of dampness might have been a reason for low buy in then — the price tag of $320k would surely discourage most people today. Those days of over-valued property are over by and large, both in Ireland and here in the US.

    Rather than let them disintegrate, the State should offer them as artist studios or something to keep them viable. So sad.

    Thanks for the photos! Now go take some pictures of cute baby lambs or something so we can smile about how beautiful the countryside is.

  2. Depressing to look at, but refreshing to see someone actually showing how the property bubble collapsing looks from ground level. Thanks for taking the time to do that!

  3. There some very haunting and telling images. I’m living across the Liffey from a large development that has never been released – I hope that somebody can enjoy the living space but the longer it goes on the more risk that they will fall into disrepair. The security is a scarecrow in a high vis that has long since fallen over. The empty apartments over look a old barracks that was half destroyed to erect them. Nobody gave a thought to the beautiful old buildings that are now in a further state of dilapidation, though at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if they outlast the apartment complex

  4. How is there that much damp/mould in them? That’s awful- can’t imagine having to live near that and see it every day (and why would people vandalise it so terribly? Bad enough that it appears to be falling apart of its own accord, but… Yikes!).

  5. Very effective use of photos showing neglect combined with text from brochures. Such a waste – great post, L

  6. Truly depressing. We have thousands of these cancerous lesions blighting the landscape, the treatment of which taxpayers will be paying for for decades.

    Perhaps you should turn the photographs into postcards and leave them at airports, so that emmigrants can post them to the TDs of Dail Eireann.

    Greetings from wherever you are !

  7. Very interesting read and the brochure text makes for dark humour. Its truly a shame this building has been let go to ruin rather than be used by anyone.

    I think Toms great idea to offer them to artists or any start up business is something which should be the norm for Nama.

  8. What a shame. I drive passed these every day and often wondered what they were like inside. I love the way you have quoted the brochure under each photo.

  9. It’s very sad indeed.

    Moreover, it’s such a waste to abandon the place this way. I like the idea of art studios or anything else but pure abandonment.

    ANd yes, I would not pay 320k EUR for a 2 bed-room apartment. With that money, in Belgium you buy a 3 -floor house with garden. I am still amazed by how high house prices in Ireland are.

    ps: good pictures.

  10. Wow

    Good work. Creepy but i think people need to have this stuff documented so its burned into memory.

    I really hope no one bought any of these.

  11. i spoke to to the developer in 2007 and they were WELL aware of the roof issue at that time. I also know a lovely couple from dublin who bought one of these, seeing it as a bolthole in their native sligo for their retirement. I feel so sad every time i have to drive by these – and sad for that lovely gentle and friendly couple who’ve had their dream home crumble into a nightmare. and also sad for the vandals who felt the need to break in and destroy what was there – rendering them even MORE useless than they already were. Fixing the roof was going to be an expensive job – but thanks to these louts fixing the whole building would be nigh impossible. they and their parents should be ashamed.

  12. The damage *might* have been vandals. Or it might have been unpaid suppliers and subconstractors looking for their stuff back.

  13. Apparently …..This entire development was withdrawn from the market when it was found to be suffering from subsidence due to poor workmanship.
    The bank took over the building and sued the Main contractor .. who in the end bought the building from the bank for the cost of the loan rather that rebuild it correctly. They knew they would never sell the apartments and this was the cheaper option. The Main Contractor has closed all its operations in Ireland and the Bank in question has got its money back so neither of them care about the building anymore.
    This is a beautiful example of the lack of quality control in our building industry, the lack of enforcement in our planning process and the total lack of respect that banks show to our communities.

  14. Wow. Thanks for this post which I found via a twitter RT from @Glinner.
    It’s so sad to see the state it’s in now, but the contrast to the brochure text is even more depressing. “The Mill’s brave design sets a new standard in apartment living.” What a load of $#!7… That’s not brave design, that’s cheap design. It looks like it was supposed to be a close approximation to modern design without using anything too custom or expensive. I’m sure if people had moved in, the maintenance would have kept it functional, but I’m equally sure damp would always have been a problem. It was in the little (new build) terrace I used to live in and that wasn’t on the side of a river!
    Could they not have converted the old mill? At least the derelict shell would have still looked interesting rather than this that could be an abandoned Travel Lodge

  15. Due to the subsidence in the foundations, which is irreversible, this building has been condemned and will eventually be knocked, when they find someone to pay for it.
    I have alot of first hand experience with developments and ghost estates like this one and it’s shocking what you find, from the condition the developer left it in to the mindless vandalism that follows, open trenches, 8 meter deep holes covered with rotten timber (so no-one knows it’s there), people tearing at live electrical panels and drug use.

  16. Laughed at the “storage space” guff with the picture of uncollected post scattered over the floor.

    Why not try a video? Calculated Risk often carries posts from Jim the Realtor who gives guided tours of repo’d property in the US.

  17. great blog… what a waste of money. it’s a disgrace to see such poor construction work… almost every medium sized irish town has one of these ghost estates – monuments to greed

  18. I’ve been screamng and raving about this sort of shit for as long as I can remember and, STILL, there is the mentality – “If we could just get the buildin’ goin’ again…! The lunatice developers are one thing teariing the countryside to pieces, buliding on blind bends, too close to mature trees and running their fucking sewerage right by rivers and group water schemes but don’t forget the tossers in the local authority with their “build now plan later” philosophy, making the process of mounting an objection as crooked as possible, ” ireland’s industrial revolution”- 130 years after England’s of course, the idiot county councillors trying to get land not fit for developement rezoned, all the other bullshit that took place during the c.***t. years of “dynamic” growth. This was Irish greed at its very worst – tear out the landscape that so abysmally failed to support our ancestors…for f’s sake didn’t we kill the goose that laid the golden….? WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO SAVE IRELAND FROM THE IRISH??

  19. O, how well and truly we fooled ourselves! (Brilliant idea, Lenny & really good job putting this post together.)

  20. ps200306 you gave yourself away there but fair play. The rest of you are hypocrits, every one of you jumping on the anti-tiger bandwagon now that youre have nots (or at least have less). youre as much to blame as the next person

    Lenny, this is simply human nature. We will always want more than we have and will gladly do as were told as long as the powers that be can make a show of providing for us. We will then blame them when things go wrong. Its easier than admitting responsibility for the world we live in.

  21. Well done for putting this together. I can think of no other country that a situation like this would be allowed to happen. The developer (now owner) in question is listed as one of the wealthiest UK residents. Amazing that no-body has had an ‘accident’ at the location. In a case like this I would love to see our compo culture work!

  22. I would agree in general with the comments about the developers. However, Sligo County Council’s Planning Department should also be condemned, for (at the very least) the following reasons:

    a) Allowing planning permission for a 67 apartment, 5 storey heavy density urban designed complex, on the banks of a river, on the outskirts of a country village with a population of approximately 2500?
    b) Not enforcing any building control (compliance with the building regulations) during or after the construction of the development.
    c) Giving planning (retention) for an additional 8 apartments in 2009, when the development was already abandoned.
    These additional apartments were constructed with out planning in the original development, but needed planning in order for the bank and the developer to do their deal.

    The developers / banks have destroyed so much of this country. But don’t forget, they got permission for ABSOLUTELY everything they did from YOUR local planning department.

    And, it is still going on now, there have been several planning permission applications logged with the council recently (March / April 2011) for further developments on the outskirts of Sligo. Given the number of empty houses in and around Sligo, it is obvious that these are further examples of ‘planning exercises’ by the banks & developers to increase the value of the land for NAMA. But why are councils the giving permission for these developments, why !?!? , Housing need?

    If I was a suspicious sort I would wonder about backhanders.

    Sorry about the length of my rant, but therapy costs a fortune and … you guessed it, I cant get a loan.

    Great pictures & blog Lenny!, thanks for sharing.

    D

  23. Well done on highlighting this. It’s shocking & disgraceful. I’m at a loss for words really.

  24. Brilliant piece of work Lenny, we were a country of ” busy fool’s” for 6 or 7 years. it’s a disgrace what happened to this country..

  25. hi this is a great blog, having grown up very close to here and passing the old mill everyday on my way to school in balisodare secondary school i feel what happen here is not only disgraceful but criminal. thanks fir highlighting this issue of what was once a beautiful building and now a horrid eyesore…… some “body” should pay be it the bankers, the builders or the local athourities. typical ireland and its immaturity… thanks again……

  26. Very good article. Grew up in Ballisodare in 70’s/80’s . The old mill was always a great place to have an adventure. This once lovely village was destroyed over the last 10 years and the Mill apartments were never going to work. I am not sure where The old lady who lived beside the mill all her life is now and who Annie mentions in her comment and was moved by the developers. The Sligo County council should be responsible for knocking this down. The developer is never going to do it. Sligo co co gave the permission I’m the first place. The insanity of it all.

  27. Great pictures – terrific idea for a blog post. The commentary from the original brochures is blackly funny. Thanks for the grim laugh…

  28. Every day i look at this a dream that has become a nightmare no money to do anything with them. why oh why such a waste the space could have been given over to a group of artists and craftworkers . instead its gone to rack and ruin. I am very impressed that it has been highlighted. the greed of the celtic tiger !!!! unbelievable !

  29. I love the contrast with the brochure and the pictures. This should be done with all the empty places – it really highlights what has happen. Perhaps we should all just take the photographs of the places near us and do a communal share.

    So many villages and towns across Ireland are left with empty useless buildings which take away from their innate beauty. It could be compared to the Ireland of the famine times with empty buildings being left to die.

  30. Read this article and thought it really shows the true state of Ireland in 2011. The pictures you use speak volumes . The captions taken from the brochure a hunting reminder of what might have been teamed with the pictures of what is .

    Excellent Article look forward to read more in the future

  31. As a resident of Ballisodare I often walk through these hideous apartments (which nowadays must be fairly dangerous to enter, but are still not blocked off). They are a sobering testimony to Celtic Tiger greed. How the brochure could ever have described them as ‘luxury’ in the 1st place is a mystery: they are the size of rabbit hutches. The developers really WERE having a laugh. But to see them so wantonly vandalised is a very ‘angry’ thing to experience in an otherwise well maintained and community-oriented village. They are a waste of space in so many ways and situated along the glorious Owenmore/Ballisodare river as they are, they are an utter eyesore where there should be beauty. The old mill which they knocked in order to build these cookie-cooker apartments had oodles of true character, now lost forever. I AM angry…I live in this place.

  32. Grew up beside the mill…used to venture in there when we were younger and go skating and biking in the grain store house it was huge and we made a gheto skate park in it… along with exploring the old building all six stories!It was a ruin then an now its a ruin all over again a complete eyesore…
    a museum would of been the right job there.or even a park or fishery accomodation…instead a fine example of greed !!!

    GREAT BLOG BTW you should stick up some before pics i have loads somewhere.

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