Property players Hines, Ballymore and U&I will shortly enter the final lap of the race to develop part of the Guinness Brewery as a new urban centre.
Guinness's parent, Diageo, last year announced plans to redevelop 12 acres of its complex at St James's Gate in central Dublin for housing, offices, shops and businesses.
Sources say that multinational Hines, London-based U&I and local developer Ballymore – in partnership with Oxley – will have to submit final proposals to the drinks giant this month in the last phase of the process.
Diageo will choose the preferred bidder to redevelop part of the brewery from the proposals submitted by the final three in the race. At that point it could begin talks on a final deal with the successful business.
The three bidders are the last of an initial 16 who answered Diageo’s call last year to jointly revamp the site.
The drinks giant whittled this down to six by the spring. That group, which included Pat Doherty's Harcourt Developments and Quintain, backed by US investor Lone Star, had to bid for a place on the final three.
US-based Hines is already involved in building a new suburb at Cherrywood in south Dublin and redeveloping the old Central Bank office on Dame Street in the capital’s centre.
London-listed U&I is building a five-storey office block on Dublin's Burlington Road in partnership with local developers Johnny Ronan and Paddy McKillen. It also owns Robswall apartments in Malahide, Co Dublin.
The Sean Mulryan-founded and led Ballymore is one of the best-known developers in Ireland and Britain, with interests in both countries and Europe.
Ballymore is redeveloping a substantial portion Dublin's docklands in partnership with Singaporean company Oxley, which is also thought to be involved in the Guinness bid.
Diageo is one of Dublin’s biggest landowners. The drinks maker said that it could not comment at this stage as it was “going through a rigorous selection process”.
The group announced the redevelopment plan last October, when it said finding a development partner could take a year to 18 months.
This indicates that it could be up to six months before the company finally announces a partner to redevelop the 12-acre site.
Diageo plans to keep a number of key buildings in the quarter, including Arthur Guinness’s home and St James’s Gate itself.
Announcing the plans last year, country manager Oliver Loomes explained that Diageo would not know how much the redevelopment would cost until it had signed up a partner.
The company committed last October to hiring locals to work on the development, as it did when it built its €169 million Brewhouse 4 brewery which opened in 2014.