Ormond Hotel odyssey continues
Work on Dublin's historic Ormond Hotel has been put on hold in advance of a High Court hearing of applications by Village Magazine publisher Michael Smith and Bagots Hutton Restaurant requiring its owners, Monteco Holdings, to cease working on its demolition and redevelopment until such time as it complies with certain conditions of its planning approval.
While the company denies the claims, Gareth Lim, CEO of Monteco's parent company, the Ormond Group, confirmed to the Sunday Independent last Friday that the redevelopment has been paused to allow for consultations to take place with local stakeholders and with Dublin City Council.
In a statement issued to this newspaper, Mr Lim said: "The planning process in Ireland is a rigorous and detailed process that ensures the interests of the local community are taken into account and protected.
"We've been engaging with various groups and Dublin City Council to ensure that their thoughts are heard and incorporated. This pause will enable us to do that.
"We have been fortunate that nearly all the groups and people we have met have seen the development of this prominent site with Joycean heritage, which has been derelict since 2006, as a positive one."
As part of his application for an injunction under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, Michael Smith claims Monteco Holdings is in breach of certain conditions of its planning approval.
While expressing his concern that his home at No 5 Ormonde Quay could become uninhabitable if works on the hotel continue, he also claims that the construction works that have taken place to date have caused damage to his other residential property at No 6.
Significantly, No 6 Ormond Quay is a national monument, which dates back to the 17th century.
In separate plenary proceedings against Monteco, Mr Smith is seeking various injunctive reliefs to restrain the developer from carrying out demolition works at the Ormond Hotel or at its boundary with No 6, and is seeking a mandatory injunction directing Monteco to repair any damage to No 6 as a result of its alleged actions.
Bagott Hutton Restaurant, which trades from No 6, meanwhile, is seeking orders as part of its Section 160 application requiring Monteco to carry out the development of the Ormond Hotel in accordance with its planning approval and in a manner which doesn't cause a nuisance to the restaurant's premises.
The restaurant's owners have sought the orders as a result of various site incidents they allege have taken place, including a water leak through their basement kitchen and complaints about noise, vibration, the spread of dust.
In a further claim, they say the impact of a steel beam into the neighbouring wall caused slight structural damage to No 6.
Notwithstanding the claims being made in relation to the works that had been carried out on the Ormond Hotel to date, the Ormond Group's chief, Gareth Lim, expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
He said: "We're looking forward to resolving this matter as the hotel will employ 200-250 people during construction and employ 90 people in the city when operational.
"The common areas of the hotel are being designed to be welcoming to the local community and we hope that the neighbourhood will view the hotel as a place they can use as their own," he added.
"Local programming will also be a core part of the development and we intend to use the hotel as a means to celebrate local culture and arts."
Between its opening in 1900 and closure in 2006, the Ormond 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.
Following its closure, however, 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.
Since acquiring the property in 2014, the Ormond's new owners secured planning permission for a new, purpose-built 120-bedroom hotel incorporating two original Georgian buildings on the site, Nos 12 and 13 Ormond Quay, which did not previously form part of the hotel.
Asked by the Sunday Independent previously how his company had come to acquire the famous hotel, Mr Lim 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."