Thursday 20 June 2019

Ormond Hotel set to bloom again following a decade of dereliction

Artist’s impressions of the new courtyard of the Ormond Hotel on Dublin’s quays which has been lying idle since the crash
Artist’s impressions of the new courtyard of the Ormond Hotel on Dublin’s quays which has been lying idle since the crash
The Ormond Hotel on Dublin’s quays which has been lying idle since the crash
Artist’s impressions of the new restaurant of the Ormond Hotel

Ronald Quinlan, Commercial Property Editor

For over a century, the Ormond Hotel occupied a proud position on the quayside north of the River Liffey.

Between its opening in 1900 and closure in 2006, the hotel served as an important fixture within Dublin's social life while enjoying worldwide recognition owing to its selection by James Joyce as the scene for 'The Sirens' chapter in his seminal novel, Ulysses.

But while the Ormond's Joycean association has prevailed over time, the hotel's physical structure quickly declined to the point of dereliction after plans for its redevelopment by developer Bernard McNamara were abandoned in the wake of the 2008 economic crash.

Thankfully, the Ormond's decade-long designation as a blot on Dublin city's landscape is coming to an end with its new owners, Plato Capital, proceeding at pace with their delivery of a new 120-bedroom hotel on the site. Construction is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

As our pictures show, the interior design of the new Ormond Hotel will draw inspiration from the original building and from the era in which it flourished.

Adam Farmerie, principal at design firm AvroKO, said: "In order to pay homage to this historic site, we channeled design cues from the origin of the hotel dating back to the late 19th century, while following Joyce's sense of modernism to layer in furniture and fixtures inspired by Avant Garde and Bohemian artistic movements of the 1920s. We're excited to be part of revitalising and incorporating the heritage of this building that has stood idle for over a decade now."

Highlighting the importance of the hotel to Ormond Quay and its environs, architect Finghin Curraoin of Henry J Lyons Architects said: "It has presented us with a unique architectural opportunity to consolidate and rejuvenate the quayfront and its surroundings.

"The design concept is based on a careful analysis of the key characteristics of the site and its context.

"The intention is to create a building with an architectural expression, language and materials which are in harmony with the surrounding buildings but still maintain its own unique character."

Curraoin said while it was unfortunate that the hotel's original Georgian buildings had been replaced with poor quality steel and concrete structures over the course of the 20th century, these inferior structures would now be replaced with a purpose-built hotel.

Describing the 'state of the art' hotel that will open for business in 2020, he said: "The new building will be clad with handmade brick and natural stone, with carefully detailed windows which echo the proportions of the adjoining Georgian buildings.

"The history of the site and its unique connection with Ulysses will be celebrated by text from the book being inlaid in bronze into the floor of the new hotel".

The plans will see two original Georgian buildings on the site, Nos 12 and 13 Ormond Quay, which did not previously form part of the hotel, carefully and appropriately repaired and integrated into the new development.

While the long-awaited redevelopment of the Ormond Hotel is to be welcomed, the decision by Plato Capital subsidiary, Monteco Holdings, to acquire it in 2012 would appear to have come about as a result of what Plato Capital CEO Gareth Lim describes as a "happy coincidence".

Asked how the deal came about, he said: "We were actually on a business trip viewing the Holiday Inn on Pearse Street (we should have bought that too!) on a miserable December winter's day and asked whether there were any other properties on the market to fill up the day.

"The agent showed us The Ormond Hotel and the combination of fantastic location and price proved very attractive and we closed within six weeks."

Asked for his take on the Dublin hotel market, Lim added: "We are very positive on Dublin as a market - further reinforced by Brexit.

"Even with more hotel stock coming onto the market, we are confident that the city centre location and product/guest experience we are going to offer stands us in good stead against many of the cookie-cutter competition," Lim said.

Sunday Independent

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