Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Premier Inn hotel chain purchases Cork’s Leisureplex entertainment complex

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Leisureplex, the entertainment complex on MacCurtain St, is set to become Cork City’s second Premier Inn hotel.

The Whitbread group, which owns the Premier Inn brand, has confirmed that it has purchased the site of the former Coliseum cinema and that it intends to redevelop it into a 168-bedroom hotel, subject to planning permission.

The entertainment complex will continue to operate while the planning application works its way through the system. There’s precedent at the site as Cork City Council previously granted permission for a 171-bed, four-star hotel to different applicants in 2020.

News that the UK’s largest hotel business is to open a second Premier Inn in the city was revealed by the Irish Examiner last month when Matt Gent, development manager for Whitbread in Ireland, confirmed they were searching for a second site.

Having selected the site at the junction of MacCurtain St and Brian Boru St, Mr Ghent said the decision to invest in a second location to the east of the city centre “underlines our confidence in Cork as a visitor destination and secures another well-positioned hotel for our guests to enjoy in Ireland in Cork City”.

“Cork is a hugely successful city with thriving business, education, research, and visitor economies. Paradoxically It is also under-served by the type of affordable, flexible, and family-friendly hotel accommodation that Premier Inn provides so well,” Mr Ghent said.

MacCurtain St, part of the city’s Victorian Quarter, has a booming hospitality offering, built up over the past number of years, and enhanced by recently completed improvements to the public realm.

Whitbread opened its first Premier Inn outside of Dublin on Cork City’s Morrison’s Quay in January, where it invested €30m in a three-star 187-bed hotel as part of a wider €45m development, creating 40 jobs in the process.

The Premier Inn brand is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy in the Irish market, with five Dublin hotels and another planned for Galway. It currently have more than 1,000 bedrooms across Ireland, and is planning to build to 3,500.

Cork City Council previously granted permission for a 171-bed, four-star hotel to different applicants in 2020.

Whitbread is not the first group to show interest in developing a hotel at the former Coliseum site. In 2020, a planning application was lodged by International Investment ICAV for a five- to seven-storey, 171-bed hotel. Permission was granted by Cork City Council, with a number of conditions, including that the façade of the former postal sorting offices be retained and modified, as it is a protected structure.

Currently a bowling alley and arcade, the site was previously a cinema which remained open for more than 50 years. The Coliseum cinema, with 700 seats, opened in 1913. It eventually closed its doors in 1964.

The profile site — between Cork Kent railway station and the city centre along the MacCurtain St spine — is just across the northern channel of the River Lee, adjacent to Penrose Dock and Horgan’s Quay/HQ office developments.

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