Secret buyer for former hospital


A PRIVATE investor who has just bought the former Hume Street Hospital, off Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green, has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his identity is not disclosed. His solicitors have insisted on all parties involved signing a legal undertaking not to spill the beans.

By all accounts the new owner is largely unknown in the property industry and has not figured as a developer. Only time will tell whether he got a bargain for the €3 million purchase price, but estate agents who recently toured the six 250-year-old Georgian houses were somewhat dismayed at the extent of the water damage following the theft of lead flashing from the roof as well as gutters and downpipes.

While An Taisce and other conservation bodies have been expressing indignation at how the former cancer hospital has been affected by damage and dereliction, Dublin Corporation has said little or nothing about it.

However, the same Corpo had plenty to say when it refused permission for a six-storey office extension at the rear of the old hospital to compensate for the expensive conservation and restoration work required on the Georgian buildings.

By limiting the rear block to four-storeys “in the interests of visual amenity”, the whole refurbishment became “financially unviable”, according to one of the experts behind developer Michael Kelly, who paid €30 million for the old hospital in 2006.

There are those in the Kelly camp who maintain these planning refusals and delays jeopardised the project even before the market took a dive. Hopefully the new owner can fare better.