US embassy to move to old Jurys Hotel site in Ballsbridge

Diplomats opt for high-profile property following long search

The Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin 4 – the site has been earmarked as a new home for the US Embassy. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

The Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin 4 – the site has been earmarked as a new home for the US Embassy. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

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The US embassy plans to move from its current address in Dublin across the road to one of the Republic’s best-known pieces of real estate, the old Jurys Hotel in Ballsbridge.

US diplomats have been seeking a new home for the embassy for close to nine years as its work is outgrowing the building on its current site in Ballsbridge, on the capital’s southside.

Following a long search, it is understood that the US government has agreed to buy what is now the Ballsbridge Hotel from developer Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land, if Dublin City Council agrees to rezone the site for office use.

Real estate agent Savills is brokering the deal. Valuers say the site could be worth could be worth more than €150 million.

If it goes through, Chartered Land will drop proposals for apartments, shops and a new hotel on the site, while the US government will proceed with plans for a new building, which will not be as high as the structure planned by Mr O’Reilly’s company.

The existing US Embassy in Dublin 4
The existing US Embassy in Dublin 4

Sources say the new building will be designed to meet high standards in sustainability as well as being “very sympathetic” to the local community and surroundings.

Sold in 2005

Local and national attention has frequently focused on plans for the hotel since its former owner Jurys Doyle sold it and the adjoining Berkeley Court to developer Sean Dunne for a record €240 million in 2005.

Chartered Land declined to comment. However, it is due to apply to Dublin City Council shortly to have the site rezoned for office use from its current designation, allowing for residential and commercial building.

If councillors vote to approve that, the US embassy will submit its plans for the site soon after. Rezoning, planning and construction could take three years, according to some estimates.

The embassy, currently headed by deputy chief of mission, Alexandra McKnight, is located where Elgin Road joins Ballsbridge, just across from the site where it now hopes to move.

Chartered Land bought the hotels from Mr Dunne’s lender, Ulster Bank, in 2015 for €170 million.

The Berkeley Court Hotel will not be part of any likely deal with the US government as Chartered Land is already building apartments on that part of the property.

Mr Dunne was one of the bigger players in a debt-funded real estate bubble that burst in 2008, sparking a sustained recession that left the State insolvent after bailing out its banks. He subsequently fought a long bankruptcy case in the US, which was resolved in 2019.

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