Saturday 12 January 2008

520-bed hotel planned for Gasworks site

Proposals to turn an empty apartment block at the site of the former gasworks in Ringsend into a 520-bed hotel - one of the biggest in Dublin - are to be put before Dublin city councillors on Monday.

The apartments in the Alliance building, the nine-storey cylindrical building constructed inside the metal struts of the Victorian gasometer at the Gasworks scheme, have lain vacant since they went on sale in 2006.

Liam Carroll, the man behind Zoe developments and one of Ireland's most prolific developers, bought the 7.8-acre gasworks site with its landmark building from Bord Gáis in the mid-1990s.

Six hundred apartments were initially built in the area immediately surrounding the former gasholder, the majority of which are occupied, along with an office complex now occupied by Google.

A further 210 apartments were built in the former gasholder, but these have failed to sell in sufficient numbers to make the scheme viable.

Mr Carroll has now applied to Dublin City Council for permission to turn the vacant block into a hotel. Significant changes are being sought to the fabric of the building, which is a protected structure.

The application calls for the construction of a four-storey high glazed roof "springing" from the first floor level over the internal courtyard to incorporate this outdoor space within the hotel. Existing internal deck access to apartments would be enclosed with glazing from the first to eighth floor level to provide a "winter garden" corridor to access the hotel bedrooms.

There would also be a new three-storey glazed entrance to the hotel and the car parking spaces would be reduced from 335 to 37. In addition to this application Mr Carroll is seeking a substantial extension to the adjoining Google office block to provide an additional 5,617sq m of office space.

Both proposals will be presented by the city planners to the southeast area councillors on Monday.

Councillors will then recommend whether they consider the conversion of the residential complex into a hotel a positive step. Councillors are likely to be influenced by the attitudes of residents in the existing apartments within the complex.

Large numbers of residents contributing to an online forum have expressed serious concerns in relation to the project, particularly the possibility of a bar or club being part of the hotel, which, they said could present problems with noise and an influx of "drunk fans" following matches in the nearby Lansdowne Road.

The also raised the issue of access to their parking spaces, which are currently under the Alliance building, the quality of the hotel which might take over the complex, and legal concerns surrounding ownership of the common areas once a hotel was in place.

Objections to the planning applications must be made to the council by February 4th.

The Irish Times

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