herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Council urged to allow hotel complex at city Magdalene site

Plans to turn the last remaining Magdalene Laundry site into a hotel by preferred bidder Toyoko from Japan
Plans to turn the last remaining Magdalene Laundry site into a hotel by preferred bidder Toyoko from Japan

Dublin councillors are being urged to allow a Japanese hotel chain to build on a former Magdalene Laundry site, with the project described by officials as a "chance of a lifetime".

In a report to local representatives this week, Dublin City Council (DCC) chiefs outlined their reasons for selling off the former laundry site at Sean McDermott Street in the north inner city, with a Japanese firm as the preferred bidder.

Honour

Controversy has erupted over the plans amid calls to retain the site as a commemorative site to honour the women of the laundries.

However, council chiefs have described the site "strategic" with "great potential".

Japanese firm Toyoko has proposed a 350-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a supermarket, 55 apartments and a community centre.

It has also proposed to convert the chapel into a gallery or centre of reflection and plans include a commemorative garden, which DCC has pledged to make a condition of the sale.

The development would bring 700 construction jobs and 100 full-time positions when it is in operation.

Officials also defended the decision to use the site to att-ract commercial development instead of housing, saying aff- ordable housing would not be viable on the site and noting the concentration of social housing in the area.

"We believe this is a powerful opportunity and really the chance of a lifetime for the Sean McDermott Street area," the report reads.

Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam welcomed the proposed sale and the inclusion of various elements including a commemoration.

"This mixed development proposal has the potential to regenerate an area that has suffered greatly at the hands of criminality, disadvantage and false political promises in the past," he said.

However, Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon said the decision to sell the last laundry site was "morally wrong".

"There are no examples of a hotel transforming a marginalised community in the manner that DCC are suggesting this sale will do," he said.

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