A 'You're A Star' hopeful at the ailing Helix arts centre in Dublin

DUBLIN City University is planning to sell part of its 45-acre off-campus land bank if its latest rescue plan for the ailing Helix arts centre fails.

The centre, best known for hosting the finals of RTE's 'You're a Star', has lost over €7m since it opened in 2002 and continues to lose around €500,000 a year. Most of the debt is in the form of an overdraft of almost €5m accumulated with AIB.

Although the Helix management has been given two years to turn the venue around, DCU president Ferdinand von Prondzynski said the university had identified a site that could be sold to clear the debt.

"We have been looking at the possibility of selling a patch of land at the edge of St Clare's [DCU's sports ground] to deal with the accumulated losses of the Helix," he said.

The university has secured planning permission to build 29 apartments on the site, which it acquired from the Eastern Health Board in 1998.

"The collapse in the property market meant we could not proceed with it. We may, however, return to it if the market picks up," said von Prondzynski.

According to DCU's planning application, the development would have no impact on future sporting facilities at the university because it is "the wrong shape and size for sporting use".

The university is also working on the development of a 10-acre site at Griffith Avenue, where it hopes to develop office, hotel, retail and leisure space, as well as educational buildings.