Maldron in South Mall cauldron promises to have pre-Christmas guests

IF there are still some bare building bones sticking out at Cork City’s newest hotel (which promises to have pre-Christmas guests in situ by December 18) it’s appropriate — a portion of the site, on Parnell Place, was once a School of Anatomy for UCC.

Maldron in South Mall cauldron promises to have pre-Christmas guests

By Tommy Barker

IF there are still some bare building bones sticking out at Cork City’s newest hotel (which promises to have pre-Christmas guests in situ by December 18) it’s appropriate — a portion of the site, on Parnell Place, was once a School of Anatomy for UCC.

As frenetic construction work continues on the new Maldron 163-bedroom hotel — to the tightest of delivery deadlines, and despite appearances and significant elements yet to click into place — Cork City’s second largest hotel will open at a total cost of €30m for reveller guests in December, manager Robert McCarthy promises, with scaffolding due to come down during November.

Robert McCarthy, general manager of the new Maldron Hotel, South Mall, Cork, which is under construction. Pictures Denis Minihane.
Robert McCarthy, general manager of the new Maldron Hotel, South Mall, Cork, which is under construction. Pictures Denis Minihane.

The city’s new four-star Maldron Hotel is filling in gaps in a city block off South Mall, Parnell Place and Beasley St, parts of which have lain derelict for 30 years. The now-imminent hotel’s skeleton was first laid out on a craftily assembled site by local developers the Corbett family more than a decade ago, to an initial design by architect Jim Leahy, and since reworked by Reddy Architecture.

The partly-completed hotel structure was acquired two years ago at a site cost of about €10m by the Dalata Hotel Group, with a further €20m investment (equivalent to €180,000 “per key”, in hotel trade terms) now wrapping up to see it completed, to an altered and slightly enlarged outline.

It is being fast-tracked by contractors, Galway-based JJ Rhatigan and Cork-based Kiernan Electrical and engineering, and with more than 100 high-vis and hard-hatted construction workers swarming around its six floors, including two lower ground levels and five business suites, the largest for 70 persons.

Three bedroom floors are ready for furniture (one executive bedroom features the noted, ornate cast iron fanlight window overlooking Parnell Place, see pic, above). The hotel’s ground floor will be the very last section to complete, given the logistical constraints of working on a site bounded by three city streets, with no exterior storage/compound, says Mr McCarthy, during an Irish Examiner tour: it’s now seven weeks prior to opening, with the South Mall glazed, double height atrium facade yet to go in and thus bringing the structure closer to being weather-tight. The schedule is daunting.

The main entrance is on the South Mall, after Dalata acquired a further slender building on this historic boulevard by the signature 97 South Mall limestone bank building, now occupied by Eventbrite, and will link to a 150 seat Grain and Grill bar and restaurant, running along the Beasley St facade.

The new hotel’s staff levels by opening will be up to 100, and later in 2019 will rise to 120/130, when a further 100-seat Italian Kitchen restaurant section on Parnell Place opens by April: linkages from the Italian Kitchen to the main hotel core will be minimal, Mr McCarthy indicates of the wish to have it effectively standalone.

The four-star Dalata/Maldron hotel will be the city centre’s second largest hotel in terms of bedrooms tally, Mr McCarthy notes, second only after the 203-bed Clayton, also part of the Dalata ownership stable, and is capable of holding up 400 overnight guests.

It’s going to transform this eastern end of the South Mall, the widely experienced Robert McCarthy holds, joining the new UCC Executive Masters Business School at the former Cork Savings Bank on Lapps Quay (facing the Maldon’s Parnell Place entrance) coming to Q4 refit conclusion with Summerhill Construction.

The visually transformative effect on Parnell Place/South Mall CBD will be considerable once scaffolding on both buildings is dropped. More scaffolding may be expected in 2019, once planning is secured for a further 160-bed hotel, in a seven-storey structure, proposed by Tetrarch Capital for 7-9 Parnell Place, around 19th-century former warehouses by the bus station.

Parking for Maldron hotel guests will be at the Q Park by City Hall, two minutes’ walk beyond Parnell Bridge, while guests can also use the nearby Clayton Hotel’s leisure facilities and pool.

The new €30m hotel investment brings to four Dalata’s Cork hotel stable, including The Maldron Shandon, and Clayton Hotels Lapps Quay and Silversprings.

“No other hotel company has ever had this number in Cork,” states new GM Robert McCarthy.

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