Laois County Council not revealing price paid for derelict County Hotel in Portlaoise

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

The former County Hotel on Main Street, Portlaoise

The former County Hotel on Main Street, Portlaoise

A landmark building on Portlaoise's Main Street is being bought by Laois County Council, but how much it will cost the public will not be revealed until the deal is sealed.

John Mulholland, Council Chief Executive announced at the September meeting that contracts have been exchanged to buy the derelict old County Hotel, to turn it into housing.

While the plan was a rumour for some time, the news was a surprise to county councillors, including the Cathaoirleach Cllr Padraig Fleming.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald asked what was proposed.

“People have many memories of it, but in recent years they haven’t been good. It is an eyesore, a dangerous building,” she said.

Cllr Noel Tuohy agreed.

“I welcome the purchase of the County Hotel. Not only is it dangerous but it is an eyesore. I want to compliment Stapo Browns for the Portlaoise GAA murals. But not very far away on the same side is an old traditional shop that is a disgrace. Whether bought or built, we need to get our act together,” he said.

The Leinster Express has asked the council how much it will cost the taxpayer, but Director for Housing and Head of Finance, Gerry Murphy declined to say.

“The legal process for concluding the sale of this property is ongoing. The use of the property will be for housing purposes,” said Mr Murphy.

No other details were revealed. He said he will announce the price once the deal is finalised,

The County Hotel is vacant since 1994, with the owner based in England. It has suffered several fires and a flooding. It holds many precious memories for locals who went to dances there .

The council had initially begun preparing a Compulsory Purchase Order to force a sale. “The acquisition of the hotel could have been a CPO, we made steps to prepare this, but luckily we were able to do it by agreement,” said Mr Mulholland.

The hotel is close to another big Main Street purchase by Laois County Council, the old Shaws shop.

That was bought for €450k in 2013, for a new library.

However when the rebuild cost rose to €5 million, the project was halted. It will wait until the government agrees to fund €3.2 million of it.