DUBLIN City Council has given the go-ahead to an ambitious project to demolish the existing 16-storey Liberty Hall -- and replace it with a structure one-third higher again.
SIPTU, which owns Liberty Hall, was last night keeping quiet on the cost of its proposal to replace the Dublin landmark.
The 22-storey building will be "self-financed" through a combination of existing union funds and the leasing of office space.
Dublin City Council had received a number of objections to the planning application, particularly in relation to the proposed height, and further opposition is almost certain to be filed with An Bord Pleanala.
Designed by Gilroy McMahon Architects, who were also responsible for Croke Park, the proposed facilities include a 300-seat theatre at lower ground level.
The design also proposes a four-storey heritage centre at the top of the building and a public 'skydeck', to be reached by glass lift. A 'double height' public entrance area, a theatre and conference centre, are also part of the plan. Objections can be filed within the next month.
The union said that once planning hurdles were cleared it would take up to two-and-a-half years to demolish the existing building and construct a new one.
However, the price tag of the lavish project is being kept strictly under wraps, with just "two or three" senior officials in the know.
"They are looking for the best price possible (through a tendering process)," a spokesman said last night.
Some 19 conditions are attached to the permission, including changes to the design of the lower four floors in order for the structure to remain in keeping with the existing streetscape.
SIPTU general secretary Joe O'Flynn said the rationale for the re-development was that the building didn't meet the union's needs in the 21st Century.
The project will create an estimated 200 construction jobs.
Built in 1965, Liberty Hall was the city's first high-rise building.