An alliance of conservationists, artists, architects and local politicians has launched a campaign to prevent an iconic Georgian building in Dublin city centre passing into private ownership at a knockdown price in a ‘fire sale’ this month. Nos. 3-8 Hume Street – formerly the Hume Street Skin & Cancer Hospital – was acquired by developer Michael Kelly for €30 million in 2006 with the assistance of loans from AIB, but last month the parties involved moved to sell the building with agents Jones Lang LaSalle seeking offers of over €3million ahead of the sale by tender on May 25.
The Save Hume Street Campaign – backed by An Taisce, the Dublin Civic Trust, Irish Heritage Trust, the RHA, the Irish Georgian Society, local Councillors and TDs – is demanding State intervention to allow a public debate about the future of Hume Street before it is sold for potential commercial use at a fraction of its true value.
The Campaign wants the building acquired for cultural/public amenity purposes and is proposing a combination of state, philanthropic and private investment to acquire and restore the 18th century building which has fallen into serious disrepair since 2006.
“As the State – and by extension we the citizens – are the majority shareholders in AIB, should the public not have some say in the future of such a culturally strategic piece of real estate?” says artist Maeve McCarthy, who launched the Save Hume Street campaign in 2011. “We believe it will be a tragedy if this priceless building is allowed to pass into private ownership at a knockdown price.
“Hume Street, with its location off St Stephen’s Green, could become part of the cluster of cultural and public buildings in this part of the city that already includes the National Gallery, National Museum, National Library and RHA Gallery,” says McCarthy.
The Save Hume Street Campaign has developed a detailed proposal which outlines how the buildings could be redeveloped as an Irish Diaspora Museum/Genealogy Centre, while also providing a startup hub and live/work space for the creative sector.
This proposal has been backed by the South East Area Committee of Dublin City Council, while Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy is also a supporter saying: “The former Hume Street Hospital is an important building as far as the city’s cultural quarter is concerned. It would be fantastic to see it restored to a use that would benefit the city.”