Developer bids to swap hotel already under construction in Dublin for build-to-rent

Pat Crean wants permission for 12-storey scheme despite having started building hotel

A Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme of 227 build-to-rent apartments up to 12 storeys tall is being sought for a site on Upper Abbey Street in Dublin, in place of a hotel which is already under construction.

Balark, a subsidiary of property developer Pat Crean's Marlet, was granted permission in 2019 for a hotel and aparthotel on a site at the back of the Jervis shopping centre, near the Jervis Luas stop.

Despite already having started building work on the hotel, the company has submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála for the apartments, three-quarters of which will be studios or one-beds.

The application is being made under the SHD system, whereby developers of more than 100 homes or blocks of 200 student bed spaces can bypass the local authority planning stage and apply directly to An Bord Pleanála.


The system, which removed the right to appeal planning decisions on large-scale housing developments, is to be discontinued next February.

Of the 227 rental-only apartments, 17 would be studios, 152 one-beds and 58 two-beds in two 12-storey blocks and would replace the hotel complex under construction.

The hotel complex would have seen the construction of a 303-room hotel in 11 storeys fronting onto Abbey Street along with a 10-storey aparthotel of 277 rooms at the back of the site facing Great Strand Street.

It is understood uncertainties surrounding the return of tourism and business travel to the city in the post-pandemic environment, coupled with the large number of hotels already permitted or under construction in the immediate vicinity, prompted the new apartment application.

Were Mr Crean to secure permission for the build-to-rent development, he could choose to go ahead with it, or continue with the hotel complex depending on market conditions at the time.

The surrounding area has recently seen the completion of the Zanzibar Locke aparthotel which stretches from Great Strand Street to Ormond Quay. The 310-bed Motel One is under construction on the corner of Liffey Street and Upper Abbey Street opposite the Balark site, and immediately east of the site, an 11-storey hostel, which would accommodate more than 600 guests, is also under construction.

Dublin City Council recently agreed to sell a portion of the hostel site, which had been in the council’s ownership, to Abbey Cottages Ltd. The company had already started construction of the hostel and paid the council €100,000 for the 41sq m plot of land.

The council had bought the site at 35 Upper Abbey Street in 1939 as part of a road-widening scheme that never went ahead. In 2019, it discovered the building which had stood on the site had been demolished and the site had been incorporated into the larger hostel development plot, without its knowledge or permission. It subsequently entered into discussions with solicitors for Abbey Cottages Ltd, resulting in the sale agreement.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times