Work to begin on Clerys department store redevelopment

New ‘Clerys Quarter’ on O’Connell Street to include 176-bedroom four-star hotel

 

Work is to begin on the redevelopment of Clerys on O’Connell Street almost four years since the landmark Dublin department store closed with the loss of more than 460 jobs.

A division of new York-based real-estate firm Rockefeller Group – Europa Capital–, Irish developer Paddy McKillen jnr and Core Capital last year bought Clerys in a in a deal worth about €63 million. The company said it plans to start construction and restoration work in the first quarter of this year with the store to reopen by the end of next year.

While the basement, ground and first floors of the 165-year-old building will be used for retail, the new development will included three floors of offices, restaurants and a 176-bedroom four-star hotel.

The shock closure of Clerys in June 2015 saw 130 Clerys employees and about 330 people working for concession holders lose their jobs after the company was bought for €29 million by the Natrium consortium headed by businesswoman Deirdre Foley.

Natrium at the time said it would develop the store with the project employing more than 1,000 people during the construction phase and a further 2,500 once operating.

Planning permission for the redevelopment was granted by Dublin City Council in December 2016, but was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by Siptu on behalf of the Clerys workers who had received only statutory redundancy payments from the State. Ms Foley had refused to meet the workers or their representatives, the union said.

In March 2017, on the first day of the board’s hearings, Siptu withdrew the appeal after an undisclosed financial settlement was reached with Natrium.

Siptu services division organiser Ethel Buckley said the terms of the deal, which includes an agreement on future local employment in the new store, would remain confidential, but that a “good will payment” which was “substantial” in nature would be made to the 130 former employees.

Speaking the following day in the Mansion House, Dublin, after her first meeting with the former workers and with union representatives, Ms Foley said she was “delighted to end” what had been “a long running dispute, in the best interests of everyone involved”.

She said she looked forward to developing a working relationship with the community in the north-east inner city and to “look at employment creation opportunities”.

The new owners said the development, which it has branded “Clerys Quarter”, will provide over 400 new jobs for the local area on completion.

The scheme will involve the restoration of the historic features of what is one of Europe’s oldest purpose-built department stores, including the colonnaded façade, internal staircases, columns and ceilings the tearooms and the Clerys’ clock.

Siptu representative and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr said he expected the new owners to “fully adhere” to the employment and community benefit agreement that had been reached with Natrium.

A spokeswoman said the new owners “look forward to complying with our obligations regarding this development”.

On Friday Ms Foley, a principal at Natrium said: “I am delighted to see the exciting plans for Clerys Quarter and I wish the developers every success. Their aspirations for this site vindicate our vision when we bought in in 2015. We helped lay the groundwork for the redevelopment. Natrium saw the potential for this wonderful property on an iconic street which had been neglected for 40 years.”