Rí-Rá at risk in major redevelopment plan for Central Hotel

Application seeks permission to partially demolish hotel and reconfigure nightclub

The Central Hotel on  Exchequer Street in Dublin.

The Central Hotel on Exchequer Street in Dublin.

 

Some of Dublin’s most loved haunts could be about to disappear with planning permission being sought to partially demolish the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street and to the nearby Globe bar and associated Rí-Rá nightclub.

An application has been lodged for a major new development that consists of the reconfiguration, partial sundry demolition, and expansion of the Central Hotel into a new 6,554 sq m five storey hotel with 125 bedrooms and a rooftop extension.

Among the associated properties at risk because of the planned development includes the Globe bar, sister establishment Rí-Rá and the Exchequer.

Disappointment

Labour Party councillor Darragh Moriarty said there would be huge disappointment at seeing many of the capital’s most loved institutions being turned into another hotel.

“This is just the latest in a string of vibrant areas in the city that are being taken over. We need lively places for dancing and drinking rather than for another sterile hotel, which we’ve got plenty of already,” he said.

“The Globe and Rí-Rá are institutions and so many people have good memories of nights out there. They really are among the staples of Dublin nightlife and they’ll be sadly missed. This is really disappointing,” Mr Moriarty added.

A spokesman for BCP Capital, which is a partner in the development said its “vision” for the Central Hotel was “for a social and cultural hub for Dublin that adds to the vibrancy of the area”

He said the overall scheme would result in a significant net increase in bar and restaurant space.

“The opportunity to contribute positively to the city’s cultural & nightlife scene was a key factor in our and our partners decision to invest in the hotel,” he said.

Sunil Sharpe, a DJ and member of campaigning group Give Us the Night, said Dublin nightlife is dying with the potential loss of Rí-Rá a huge loss for the city.

“In the last few years we’ve seen venue after venue disappear and Rí-Rá is one of the last great nightclub spaces in the city. There isn’t anywhere else that has run as long and had the same level of consistency over the years. People will be very disappointed to hear that it might become something other than a nightclub,” he said.

“Our remaining dance floors are sacred and getting rid of an historic one like this shouldn’t be easy for developers,” Mr Sharpe added.

However, the BCP spokesman said the current Rí-Rá nightclub space would remain as a bar/nightclub, “and the much-cherished Library Bar will also remain a core part of the hotel and its identity”.

As part of the project, the developers are proposing to demolish an existing two-storey building above Rí-Rá nightclub on Dame Court, replacing it with a six-storey property.

Refurbishment

The planned development includes an extensive refurbishment and reconfiguration of the Central Hotel and associated premises at 11-16 South Great George’s Street which involves removing internal partitions to provide ancillary hotel areas, that include creating a garden terrace and turning the much loved nightclub into a speakeasy.

The reconfigured Central Hotel will have a covered winter garden link to the Exchequer Lounge, which is to become part of the hotel reception. Part of the existing Globe bar and Rí-Rá nightclub will be used as a retail space in the amalgamated hotel. The nearby Christian Science Reading Room on South Great George’s Street is to move from it current location and this too is to form part of the new development.

The Library Bar in the Central Hotel will be retained although some of it will reduce in size with some of the space being used for two bedrooms.

The application, which was filed earlier this month, has been made by Exchequer Developments Limited, a company formed last year and whose directors are Richard Gale, Pavlos Nearchou, William Crowley and Thomas Cullen. Brian Maher of commercial real estate company Avison Young is the agent.

The Central Hotel, which was formerly owned by the Gerry Conlon-led Bridlewood Family Trust, was acquired by a Deutsche Finance joint venture with BCP Capital last year. The deal also included the nearby Trinity Street car park.

The hotel had already secured approval for some modifications prior to the sale in a move that would have extended capacity to 112 bedrooms.