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Saturday 21 October 2017

Developer plans multi-million euro upgrade for capital's Central Hotel

The popular Central Hotel
The popular Central Hotel

Dublin's Central Hotel has been earmarked for a multi- million euro upgrade by developer Gerry Conlon.

The city centre hotel, on Exchequer Street, is home to the Library Bar, which has been popular with punters for decades.

Mr Conlon was one of the so-called Maple 10 investors who became shareholders in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008 when Sean Quinn offloaded his 25pc stake in the doomed lender. Anglo loaned the Maple 10 a total of €451m to buy a 10pc stake.

The redevelopment scheme includes the demolition of some property next to the hotel and the conversion of retail and nightclub space to hotel use.

The project will see the number of rooms increase from 70 to 116.

Mr Conlon was a significant builder during the boom and also owned the private Mount Carmel Hospital, which was closed in 2014 and bought the same year by the HSE.

In plans submitted to Dublin City Council, Mr Conlon has detailed sweeping alterations he wants at the hotel, which is a protected structure.

The Central has been in operation for nearly 130 years.

Among the changes will be the demolition of 12 Dame Court, a building that is currently occupied by a pizza restaurant.

Extension

That building will be replaced with a seven-storey extension to the hotel, which will include a bar and rooms.

Mr Conlon also intends to refurbish and reconfigure the existing hotel interior.

That includes the removal of partitions and walls in the basement of the hotel itself, and also of a number of adjacent properties on South Great George's Street.

The space will be converted from retail and nightclub use to provide a new connected breakfast and restaurant area, as well as a gym.

The developer also plans to amalgamate 16 South Great George's Street, which is currently occupied by a pharmacy, into the hotel.

That building will then be connected to the existing Lib-rary Bar.

In a 2012 RTE radio documentary, the hotel's managing director Myles Tuthill said that Mr Conlon had been playing poker in the hotel and woke up there the next morning with the keys of the property in his pocket.

"He trundled on home and got a phone call the next day - 'the banks were foreclosing on this unless you give us a million'," said Mr Tuthill.

"He duly, promptly, stumped up the required million. He eventually bought the place out in 2007."

Mr Tuthill added that for years afterwards the hotel made a loss, but began making money in the downturn as it had already made cutbacks.

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