Campaign aims to save Hume Street sites from 'fire sale'

Tue, May 8, 2012, 01:00

THE GOVERNMENT is being urged by an alliance of artists, architects, conservationists and local politicians to save a well-known terrace of Georgian buildings on Dublin’s Hume Street from an imminent “fire sale”.

Numbers 3 to 8 Hume Street, directly off St Stephen’s Green, are being offered for sale by tender by Jones Lang LaSalle on May 25th with a guide price of over €3 million – just a tenth of what they were sold for in 2006.

Formerly the Hume Street Skin and Cancer Hospital, the terrace was acquired by developer Michael Kelly for €30 million with the assistance of AIB, but plans to redevelop the buildings fell foul of the property crash.

The Save Hume Street Campaign – backed by An Taisce, the Dublin Civic Trust, Irish Heritage Trust, the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), the Georgian Society, local councillors and TDs – now wants the State to intervene.

It says the 18th century buildings should be acquired for cultural uses and is proposing a combination of State, philanthropic and private investment to acquire and restore the terrace, which has fallen into decay since 2006.

“As the State – and by extension us, the citizens – are the majority shareholders in AIB, should the public not have some say in the future of such a culturally strategic piece of real estate?” said artist Maeve McCarthy RHA.

“Hume Street ... could become part of the cluster of cultural and public buildings in this part of the city that already includes the National Gallery, National Museum, National Library and RHA Gallery,” she suggested.

The campaign was launched in February 2011 when the former hospital building was stripped of its lead and copper fittings by metal thieves. Subsequently, work was undertaken to repair roof valleys and secure internal plumbing.

Although the campaign has been unable to establish if Nama is involved in the impending sale, Ms McCarthy said: “We believe it will be a tragedy if this priceless building is allowed to pass into private ownership at a knockdown price.”

The campaign has a proposal outlining how the buildings could be redeveloped as an Irish diaspora museum/genealogy centre, while also providing a start-up hub and live/work space for creative artists. This proposal has been endorsed by Dublin City Council’s South East Area Committee and Eoghan Murphy TD (FG, Dublin South East).

The campaign is holding a public awareness meeting next Friday, at a venue to be confirmed. It can be contacted at savehumestreet@gmail.com or on Twitter @humestreet.