Diageo takes its time to settle on partner for St James’s Gate quarter

Guinness development poses forward-planning problem for Ballymore, Hines and U&I

St James’s Gate: a decision on the Guinness site is said to be days, weeks or even months away

St James’s Gate: a decision on the Guinness site is said to be days, weeks or even months away


When Diageo, the global drinks giant, used the advertising slogan “Good things come to those who wait”, in the 1990s, it was engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds (and wallets) of younger drinkers who believed the 119.5 seconds required to pour a perfect pint of Guinness simply weren’t worth it.

But it was so good at combatting consumers’ negative perceptions that it was followed up a decade later, as Diageo sought to secure a new cohort of devotees to the proverbial pint of plain.

Roll forward to today and one might suggest the company expects the same patience from business interests as Ballymore, Hines and U&I await the outcome of the process to select a development partner for the new urban quarter being planned for Guinness’s St James’s Gate brewery, in Dublin.

Although Diageo said at the outset of the selection process, in September 2017, that it could take 18 months to choose a preferred bidder, it said nothing about setting a deadline for itself, or for others to follow.

With a decision on the Guinness brewery site now said to be days, weeks or even months away, depending on which “informed” source you speak to, the issue of forward planning is believed to be coming to a head for the three developers still in contention.

Quite apart from their involvement already in major projects in the Dublin docklands, Cherrywood and Sandyford, respectively, Ballymore, Hines and U&I are all expected to vie for selection as Nama’s partner on the development of 3,500 new homes on the 15 hectares (37 acres) it controls at Poolbeg West, in the Dublin docklands. That process is expected to get under way in the next five to eight weeks.

All of which leaves senior executives at the three companies grappling with the possibility of having to deliver what are arguably Dublin’s two most important schemes simultaneously, while also finishing their existing developments in the city.

Diageo isn’t about to be bounced into making a decision however. “The evaluation process is ongoing,” a spokesman said. “We have a long history at St James’s Gate, going back 260 years. We are ambitious about writing the next chapter of that history by creating a world-class urban quarter. We are focused on getting to the right decision, and we will therefore take all of the time necessary in the selection and evaluation process.”