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Closing the Gate

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Postby TheBeerNut » Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:52 am

The FT has it that Diageo are considering shutting down St. James' Gate, a site they reckon to be worth between €600 and €700 million. It would certainly change the landscape of Dublin, even if it has no effect on the beer available.
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Postby sbillings » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:08 am

That amount of land for development will have an effect on property prices as well as the shape of Dublin.

If it's developed properly (unlikely in Ireland, I know, but hope springs eternal) it could breath life into a pretty dead part of the city.
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Postby oblivious » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:11 am

I know a one of the people that were involved in the closure of there London brewery, I think this has been at the back of their mind for some time. But I think Dublin was kept as the marketing/goodwill it generated towards the product, I am general not a fan of Diageo and will vote with my pocket if it goes went adead.

But if the modle is base on the Ballsbridge site, it could be flawed as they did not recive planning permission they wanted pushing the build cost of the apartments to around 400,000, thats not the sale cost!

Strange the FT did not say the Ballsbridge site did not get the planning permision they wanted.
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Postby kenmc » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:21 am

I think it would be a disaster for Guinness (the identity and product) if they were to do that - James Gate is a landmark, an icon, a familiar constant in a changing city. Also it's been brewed on the same site for 200+ years. I would not at all be surprised if, IF they move production to a different location in dublin that hardened Guinness drinkers fell out of love with the product because of a (rightly or wrongly) perceived difference in taste of the beer due to 'it being better when it was brewed on the liffey'. I would probably regard myself as a Guinness drinker, although I was not enamored by the sale to Diageo, and if the James Gate site were to be sold I would be even less likely to drink it.
Sure while they're at it, why not sell the GPO and TCD and turn them into apartments also. I'd love to live in one of my old lecture theatres :)
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Postby TheBeerNut » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:48 am

kenmc wrote:I would not at all be surprised if, IF they move production to a different location in dublin that hardened Guinness drinkers fell out of love with the product

It doesn't seem to have done Jameson any harm. And if, as the article suggests, they move operations to Balbriggan, they'd still get away with "Brewed in Dublin" in the marketing.
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Postby sbillings » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:55 am

I doubt that they will loose many customers at all.

Guinness drinkers may cry into their pints about the closure of St James' Gate and may say beer just isn't the same from the new place, but they will still drink it.

What else are they going to drink? Beamish? Murphy's? No, they'll take what they are given, just like they did when it went from cask to keg with nitro.

As to the foreign trade, as long as it's brewed in Ireland and they keep their existing tourist trap in the area, no one will care.

Sure while they're at it, why not sell the GPO and TCD and turn them into apartments also. I'd love to live in one of my old lecture theatres :)


That's a different issue. When it comes down to it, a brewery is nothing but a factory.

If you want to go into Trinity College or the GPO, you can do so. Try having a look around St James' Gate; see how far you get.

The Guinness brewery is a huge area of land that is effectively a barrier to people. A huge, high walled block of nothing, that you have to walk around. Imagine all of that quayside area opened up, with flats and businesses, so you could walk through it.

Nostalgia may tell you it's a bad thing, but I think it will be a good thing for the city.
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Postby oblivious » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:56 am

Yea, but Guinness is much more noticeable icon in the Dublin landscape and we would miss the smell!, it part of Dublin charm!
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Postby TheBeerNut » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:03 am

oblivious wrote:we would miss the smell!, it part of Dublin charm!

Jaysis, yeah, I didn't think of that. Imagine: residents of Thomas Street would be able to hang their clothes out on the line...

I'd still rather have the site, as Seán says, developed as "the Guinness Quarter" with proper amenities and so on.

And a microbrewery...
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Postby sbillings » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:08 am

TheBeerNut wrote:And a microbrewery...
St. James' Gate brewing company. Pint of James' Gate Stout anyone? :lol:
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Postby oblivious » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:08 am

sbillings wrote:The Guinness brewery is a huge area of land that is effectively a barrier to people. A huge, high walled block of nothing, that you have to walk around. Imagine all of that quayside area opened up, with flats and businesses, so you could walk through it.

Nostalgia may tell you it's a bad thing, but I think it will be a good thing for the city.


I any another county I would believe that. I have seen what they have done in Vancouver with high rise and the requirement to put in pay areas/ schools etc depending on population density.

I just won’t happen here, another load of family unfriendly one bed apartments, at a high coast. Dublin answer to a housing problem in the city centre was to create a tax break (section 23) that has done nothing to address this long term problem.
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Postby TheBeerNut » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:18 am

sbillings wrote:St. James' Gate brewing company. Pint of James' Gate Stout anyone? :lol:

Someone was telling me in the pub at the weekend that the Smithwick family tried to set up a brewery a few years back and were leapt on by Diageo's lawyers, despite the fact that you can't trademark names. Diageo were granted an exception for the "Guinness" name, but everything else is fair game. You also can't trademark placenames AKAIK, so stout from the St. James's Gate brewery should be OK. Except, if I were Diageo I'd make sure that "no brewing" would be a condition of any commercial property sales on the development. What developer is going to have a problem with that?

oblivious wrote:I just won’t happen here, another load of family unfriendly one bed apartments, at a high coast.

If the result is something like the Docklands, I think I'd be happy. Families belong in the suburbs, and Dublin needs more high density living space near the city centre.
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Postby sbillings » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:26 am

another load of family unfriendly one bed apartments, at a high coast.


That is a possibility, but unlikely. Planning regulations are not the only factor which influence what is built on a site.

When it comes to city centre sites, things tend to work like this, in my experience:

If a developer has a small site, he will build flats.

If he has a medium sized site, he will build flats and offices.

If he has a large site, it will become flats offices and shops\business units.

That is not because of planning regulations, that is because of market forces.

The developer builds what he thinks he can sell at a profit and he will make more money out of a shop unit than a ground floor apartment. If he is building flats and offices anyway, he knows any business that takes the shop unit, will have a ready made set of customers, which makes the unit a marketable commodity.

The area may, or may not be family friendly, but it will be a lot more people friendly than a walled off factory.
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Postby oblivious » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:33 am

TheBeerNut wrote:If the result is something like the Docklands, I think I'd be happy. Families belong in the suburbs, and Dublin needs more high density living space near the city centre.


That’s just not true, who is going live in all these apartments when people have to move out to the sprawling suburbs, Dublin now has the same area as Los Angeles!

It extremely bad planning to model a city on that notion, we just don’t have the transport system to handle the mass of people at the monument let alone in ten years. Density will have to increases in the city but it has to de done intelligently
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Postby HapyAcid » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:35 am

I'd love to know know how much tourism St. James Gate actually brings to Dublin. I would be sad if they closed St. James Gate. It's one of the only things Dublin or even Ireland is really recognised for worldwide.
Guinness drinkers may cry into their pints about the closure of St James' Gate and may say beer just isn't the same from the new place, but they will still drink it

You're probably right. But as a guinness drinker i do think I'd have the right to worry about it. Everyone knows that Ireland is famous for it's pints of Guinness and that, although the quality may vary from place to place, pints of Guinness here are generally the best in the world. I'm happy with my pint, i don't want it to change.
I won't disagree, that the area does need some work (I had a friend who lived in an apartment right next to the brewery) but i think there are other options...
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Postby sbillings » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:49 am

It would be good if it were done intelligently, but there are no campaign contributions or brown envelopes in making developers do what they should do, rather than what will make them the most money.

There is an opportunity here to do something great with a chunk of the city which has been off limits to the public for centuries.

It is unlikely you will get a family friendly development with schools, etc. but it is equally unlikely that you will get a huge block of pack 'em in apartments. What will actually happen will be somewhere in between.

As to who is going to live in all of those apartments. I know people who are living in apartments in Blanchardstown and further out, but working in town. I know people who are commuting from the Midlands. Apartments in that part of Dublin will not stay empty and the people who are living in them won't be in their car, trying to get in from the suburbs every morning.
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