Talks underway with 5-star hotel operators to occupy Ireland's tallest building

Talks underway with 5-star hotel operators to occupy Ireland's tallest building

An Artist's Impression of the Custom House Tower 

The redrawing of Cork City’s skyline into a series of high-rise silhouettes is set to continue after planners gave the go-ahead for its tallest building yet.

None of the approximately 60 conditions attached by Cork City Council to the Tower Holdings Group €150m proposal for the redevelopment of the old Port of Cork site on Custom House Quay is expected to jeopardise the project.

As part of the proposal, the public will have access for the first time to bonded warehouses on the site which will be used to house an interactive visitors centre representing Cork’s rich maritime heritage, as well as retail, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, and a new micro-distillery.

As it stands, permission has been granted for a 34-storey, 240-bed hotel tower, which, at around 140m in height, will dwarf the circa 70m Elysian, which for a time was the tallest building in Ireland.

An image of the proposed Port of Cork hotel development on Custom House Quay
An image of the proposed Port of Cork hotel development on Custom House Quay

While there is a four-week window to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála, if an appeal is not lodged, the Irish Examiner understands it will be at least another six months after the appeals window closes before any work would commence on site. This would be to facilitate the process of engaging an anchor tenant. 

The Irish Examiner understands there has already been some early engagement with a number of global five-star hotel brands. Tenants will also be sought for the interpretive centre, for retail, for F&B, and for the distillery.

The Custom House Quay project is just one of several high-rise developments planned for the city, with the sod already turned on the nearby Prism Building, a second Tower Holdings project, and site clearance started at Albert Quay in preparation for a 24-storey build-to-rent scheme by developer JCD.

The new hotel at the Custom House Quay site will offer five-star luxury, including a spa, a swimming pool, and gym facilities.

The new tower will incorporate and restore the historic Custom House, and will feature a sky-bar and restaurant where visitors can enjoy locally produced cuisine while taking in panoramic views of Cork City, said Tower Holdings.

A spokesperson for the group said they were delighted to get the go-ahead and would now study all of the planning conditions which are believed to relate to issues such as built heritage, construction management, environmental impact, traffic and parking, and public realm.

Cork Chamber of Commerce said the grant of planning permission was “a clear statement of intent and ambition”. CEO Conor Healy said the development would “undoubtedly add spark to the economic diversity of the city centre”.

The Custom House building will undergo a change of use to a reception and a bar/restaurant. Work on the bonded warehouses will include raising the roof, as well as the partial demolition and reinstatement of historic canopies around the building which will form enclosed conservatories.

A new glazed atrium will link the Custom House building with the bonded warehouses, both of which are protected structures.

A landscaped public realm, refurbishment of historic mooring posts and cobbles, and flood protection are all part of the proposal.

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