Gresham's €92m sale 'step in right direction'
The €92 million sale of the iconic Gresham Hotel is the first step on the path to making O'Connell Street the "crown jewel" of Dublin city.
This is according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, who welcomed news that the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) had sold the renowned hotel to Spanish firm RIU Hotels and Resorts.
"It is a step in the right direction. O'Connell Street should be the jewel in the crown for Dublin city centre, and I think it's fair to say it's far from it," said Graeme McQueen, Public Affairs Manager for the Dublin Chamber.
"There's huge potential in the street - and five to 10 years from now, I believe when you walk down it, it will be a very different place."
NAMA declined to comment when asked by the Herald about the Gresham, which it bought from the former Anglo Irish Bank for less than €35m, but it is understood that its sale generated almost €60m profit.
"The deal is a vote of confidence for the northside of the city," said DublinTown CEO Richard Guiney.
The RIU group, which is part-owned by TUI - the world's largest travel group - edged out Irish hotel firm Tifco to secure the €92m bid.
The Spanish company has just opened a €280m hotel in New York, and is among the fastest-growing hoteliers in recent years.
It already operates 105 hotels and resorts in 19 countries.
The Gresham's board is expected to approve the takeover tomorrow.
A spokesperson for RIU said "further investment in the hotel could be expected" but declined to comment whether the hotel group planned to take advantage of planning permission allowing for the 323-bedroom hotel to be enlarged to 465.
Irish hotel sales have been booming so far in 2016, with 29 properties changing hands in first six months of the year.
"Redeveloping [O'Connell Street] has been challenging due to the different motives and needs of the owners of its buildings, but there is a real opportunity now for the area," added Mr McQueen.