WORK has commenced on a €45m hotel and office development at Morrison’s Island, kickstarting a much-needed and long-awaited overhaul of Morrison’s Quay.
Contractors, the Cavan-based Elliot Group, have moved onto the 0.65 acre site which formerly housed Moore’s Hotel.
Mark Elliott, CEO of the Greenleaf Group, who, along with Warren Private are developing the site, said it should be ready for Autumn 2023.
The development will include a 6,800 sq m 187-bedroom Premier Inn with offices in one ground-floor section, as well as the full refurbishment of Nos 11, 12 and 13 Morrison’s Quay as high-quality own-door office buildings, whose protected 19th century facades will be conserved. Architects on the project are MDO Architects, Dublin.
Enabling works at the site got underway within weeks of the High Court decision at the end of July to uphold An Bord Pleanála’s grant of planning permission to Cork City Council to implement long-held plans for the revival and rejuvenation of Morrison’s Island quays.
The council is planning extensive remedial works to the quay walls, public realm improvements and flood defence works in the area.
A spokesperson for the Council said they have not yet published the tender for the Morrison’s Island public realm and flood defence project, but that they anticipated doing so “in the coming months should there be no further legal challenges to the scheme”.
Campaign group Save Cork City previously challenged the plans in Court.
Mr Elliot told the Irish Examiner they will be implementing their own flood mitigation measures by building the floor level of the new development above flood level.
The development area is approximately 8,500 sq m, which takes in numbers 9-14 Morrison’s Quay, 5-5A Fitton St, 1 Keeffe St, and adjoining lands backing onto Catherine St and Keeffe St.
Nos 11, 12, and 13 Morrison’s Quay will be at the centre of the development, with two new five storey hotel blocks book-ending these buildings.
The development site is owned by Quakeside Ltd, who are believed to have bought it for €7m in 2019.
The Morrison’s Island hotel is the first outside of Dublin for the Whitbread Group-owned Premier Inn brand, who have just completed pre-opening works at a 97-bed hotel on South Great George’s St (Elliot Group were also the contractors), due to open in October.
Three more Dublin Premier Inns are under construction — a 113-bed at Gloucester St, a 151-bed at Newmarket Square, and a 262-bed at the Castleforbes development in the docklands — while a fourth hotel, at Twilfit House on Abbey St, is at pre-construction stage.
Matt Gent, Whitbread’s property development manager for Ireland, said they are also “actively looking” at sites in Limerick, Galway, and Dublin, but that they did not have anything else planned for Cork. Whitbread’s development partners are the Greenleaf Group and Warren Private.
Bedrooms in the Cork hotel will average 20 sq m, according to Mr Elliot, and it will also contain a generous bar, restaurant, and reception areas. There will be no car parking on site. Ground floor offices in one of the hotel blocks will have access from Catherine St.
The development will help breathe new life into the lowest-lying quays in Cork City which the council has described as “ineffective public spaces, primarily used for car parking”, and “under-utilised as a riverside amenity”.
The council’s €6m quayside plan aims to capitalise on the south-facing aspect of Morrison’s Quay, with an upgraded streetscape, incorporating a wide riverside promenade, near the impressive Holy Trinity Church, a plaza area at the eastern end of the South Mall, and a redesigned Trinity Bridge crossing the Lee to Union Quay, where Cork School of Music is based, and where University College Cork is planning a new business school on the former Brooks Haughton site - albeit the pandemic has delayed the procurement of a design team, according to a spokesperson for UCC.A spokesperson for UCC said When the upgrades are finally completed, and with a new €106m business school in the pipeline and the new hotel replacing Moore’s Hotel — which ceased trading 16 years ago and was placed on City Hall’s derelict sites register in 2018 — one of the city’s oldest quays should have a secure future.