RIAC seeks property partner to redevelop Dawson Street premises

Historic city centre club property with car parking and other facilities offers potential to use air space in significant upgrade

The Royal Irish Automobile Club at 34 Dawson Street, Dublin 2: Its car park entrance is to the left of the building. Photograph: Fran Veale

The Royal Irish Automobile Club (RIAC) is set to appoint an agent to identify an investor who would partner with the club to redevelop its headquarters on Dawson Street in Dublin 2.

It is understood that the RIAC is willing to consider ways to develop the air space at the historic Dawson Street property with a developer or investor, as part of a deal that would also deliver a significant upgrade to facilities at the club.

The site comprises 34 Dawson Street and buildings to the rear, facing on to Anne’s Lane. The RIAC sees the potential to develop the air rights above the car park and to the rear of the Georgian property.

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The RIAC’s facilities currently include a restaurant, bar, reading room and library, meeting rooms, offices for the RIAC and Motorsport Ireland, and a 61-space car park for members.


In 2017, the RIAC partnered with Irish investment group Tetrarch, the then owner of the Dawson Hotel next door, to develop their adjoining premises. It was to include the development of new hotel facilities to the rear of the RIAC site.

The two parties received planning permission for a scheme and had originally envisaged that the RIAC would vacate the club by the end of June 2019, with the redevelopment works to be completed within 24 months. An assessment of the condition of the RIAC buildings in advance of the venture with Tetrarch being announced had found evidence of dry rot, a need for roof repairs, and substantial movement in some walls.

The plan was abandoned in 2022 due to rising construction costs and uncertainty over the future of tourism in the city post the pandemic. Tetrarch sold the Dawson Hotel last year.

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The site is wholly owned by the RIAC and is debt-free. The property is understood to be valued at about €14 million. Possible uses include tourist accommodation and offices.

When contacted for comment on its plans, RIAC chief executive Conor Faughnan said: “We are aware that we have an enormous property asset here and that is underused. So we have our eyes open to the potential possibilities for that. We are always recruiting new members, helped by our access to parking.”

The RIAC doesn’t publish details of its membership numbers but it is thought to have about 700 members. Given its prime city centre location, situated opposite the Mansion House, the availability of car parking on the site is a key selling point for new members.

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The RIAC was founded in 1901 and has owned the Dawson Street building since the 1920s. The club was a founding member of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the governing body for Formula One and other motorsports, and owns the governance rights for motorsport in Ireland.

According to its website, RIAC members get “privileged access” to FIA events including Formula 1 Grands Prix, World Rally Championship and motorsports events internationally.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times