Will hotel developments liberate Dublin’s Liberties?

Cantillon: As hoteliers set their eyes on the Coombe area, let’s hope they employ locals

Iveagh Markets on Francis Street in the Liberties: another hotel for the area? Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Iveagh Markets on Francis Street in the Liberties: another hotel for the area? Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The working-class Liberties district is the oldest neighbourhood in Dublin. It is also its newest development hotspot.

The news that US hotel group Hyatt is to open a four-star, 234-bedroom hotel in the Liberties is, to date, the highest-profile announcement of a hospitality development in the area. The new hotel, operated by the Hodson Bay group from Athlone, will employ 280 people and, according to a report prepared for its developers, will be worth €21 million annually to the local economy.

The Liberties, with its growing hipsterish vibe and handy setting adjacent to the city centre, is ripe for a building boom. In much the same way the docklands area of the city was largely regenerated by commercial development in the 1990s and 2000s, the Liberties was always going to be the next frontier.

Urban renewal

Hotel developments often act as the catalyst for urban renewal, and the Liberties and the surrounding areas are suited to hospitality schemes. West of St Patrick’s Street, there is not a single four-star hotel in the inner city.

The Hyatt, when it opens in May 2019, will change that. It also isn’t the only hotel slated for the area. Denis O’Brien is building a trendy Aloft hotel just up the road from the proposed Hyatt, on the site of the old Blackpitts school.

Another 240-bed hotel is being built on Newmarket Square. Developer Anthony Byrne has permission for a 260-bed property on Francis Street. Diageo will include a hotel in the redevelopment of St James’s Gate. Whenever the Iveagh Market ever gets redeveloped, that will be another hotel on the way in the area.

All of this should be welcome news for Liberties residents, who have endured more than their fair share of social deprivation in times past. Hopefully the operators of the new hotels hire locally whenever possible.

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