‘Met’ to go mega

Cork city’s landmark and classic late Victorian/Edwardian-era hotel the Metropole has bought an adjoining, rear quayside site, the former PJ O’Heas garage, for c €1.3 million. The significant acquisition will facilitate an ambitious extension and hotel upgrade plan that could see a further €10-15 million spent in e coming years.
‘Met’ to go mega

New owners of the famed Metropole Hotel on MacCurtain Street, Phillips Hotel Holdings have followed their €5m purchase of the 112-bed hotel earlier this year with a €1.3m site swoop on the adjacent 0.36 acres plot vacated by PJ O’Heas garage on St Patrick’s Quay.

The motor company relocated to Little Island in 2009, but went out of business in the downturn, in 2009.

The south-facing St Patrick’s Quay site, which includes a barrel-roofed 20,000 sq ft building, went to market in July 2015 with Rob Coughlan of Cohalan Downing, guiding €675,000.

It came under strong bidding activity from a variety of quarters, including residential development. In the event, it made twice its guide price.

Confirming the purchase, seasoned property developer and businessman Vincent O’Farrell said it would facilitate plans to extend the Metropole and to bring it to four-star hotel standards.

A key kick-start to the investment plans will be action on City Council and local MacCurtain Street traders’ association plans to upgrade the architecturally important street to a ‘Victorian Quarter’, with two-way traffic, new links to the rail station, tree planting and street tidying, all emphasising the block’s high quality period architecture.

The phased Metropole investment plans could see a further 70 bedrooms added to the existing stock of 112 rooms, rooms refurbishment and leisure centre upgrades, and an above-street bridge link (similar to the Clarion Hotel’s bridge at Lapps Quay) from the existing 1897-built hotel over slender Harley Street to its newly-acquired quayside site.

Smartening up the unlovely Metropole’s rear end block facing south to Merchants Quay is also mooted. Separately, plans for a pedestrian bridge between the two quays and bus station/stops have also been floated.

Having started in property development in Cork in the 1960s, and 1970s with Robin Power, Mr O’Farrell now represents the UK business group behind Philip Hotel Holdings and who also have bought the two hotels at Cork Airport.

Mr O’Farrell said the group is currently looking to buy further hotels in Cork, Galway, Limerick city and Dublin. Philip Hotel Holdings appointed the Tifco group to run the Metropole Hotel in June of this year.

In the short term, the PJ O’Hea site will allow for car parking for hotel guests, with phased plans for 70 more bedrooms, at a cost of €120,000 each.

Mr O’Farrell said the Metropole had enormous further potential given its prime city centre setting, proximity to the rail station and commented “the group is hugely motivated and committed to its development.”

Designed by Arthur Hill, the 19th century ornate classic building was developed by the Musgrave family. The ‘Met’ was sold in the 1970s to a local consortium, became a Ryan hotel in 1999 when it got a €9 million investment, and went under the Gresham Metropole banner in the 2000s.

Details: Cohalan Downing 021-4277717

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