Attention returns to what was the old Jurys Hotel in Ballsbridge

The US government is preparing to buy the Ballsbridge Hotel, pending rezoning, to house its embassy

Since its sale to developer Sean Dunne in 2005 for €240 million, the old Jurys Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, has drawn a lot of attention. That deal is still seen as one of the points at which a debt-fuelled property bubble inflated further as it prompted Dunne himself and others to do similarly-priced deals in the same neighbourhood.

The developer then lodged plans which observers said would turn Ballsbridge into mini version of Knightsbridge in London, which met inevitable objections from locals, who baulked at the scale of a proposed development that included apartments, offices, a hotel and shops.

That all turned out to be academic. The property bubble burst in 2008, dashing hopes that Dunne’s Ballsbridge scheme, and others like it, would ever become a reality.

Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land and its backers acquired the site in 2015 through a deal with Dunne's lender Ulster Bank. Chartered Land proposed a more low-key development, and is building apartments on a part of the site that was occupied by the Berkeley Court Hotel. That left the Ballsbridge Hotel, as it is now known, continuing to trade.


Now it turns out that the US government is preparing to buy the hotel, pending rezoning for office use, to house its embassy here. Its current building, literally across the street on the junction of Elgin and Pembroke roads, is no longer suitable.

The process could take some years. The hotel has to be rezoned, then any proposals must get through the planning process, and, finally, it will have to be built. On the basis that all this will happen it will be an interesting final chapter for anyone who wants to write an actual history of the Irish property bubble.

Once it’s done attention will inevitably turn to what will happen to the current US embassy, now more than half a century old and itself regarded as a landmark, one that quite a few people will no doubt want to see left as it is. It will be quite some time before the fate of that building is decided.