Irish Times, letters page, Friday, August 24, 2007 wrote:
DEVELOPMENT OF SITES AT BALLSBRIDGE
Madam, - It is a widely held belief that a newspaper should be properly judged by the fairness and accuracy of its Editorials. Over the years when reading your newspaper, it has been customary for me to first turn to the leader article and, indeed, customary to believe that it had been written without bias and with a level of fairness, understanding and expertise.
The number of grossly inaccurate and misleading articles which have been written over the past two years about my company and the Jurys/Berkeley Court site by now outnumber the number of rugby fans who claim to have been in Thomond Park when Munster beat the All-Blacks in 1978.
However, the leader article "Changes in Dublin 4" in The Irish Timesof Saturday, August 18th, that blamed me and my company for the decisions made and actions taken by a then public, and now private company (Jurys Doyle Group), two years ago was so vindictive, misleading and inaccurate that it trumps them all.
Your Editorial began by blaming my company, Mountbrook Homes, for the recent closure of Jurys and the Berkeley Court Hotel. You may recall that in June 2005 the owners of Jurys Hotel Ballsbridge, being Jurys plc, offered for sale by tender Jurys Hotel Ballsbridge. It was an express condition of the sale of the property, by the inclusion of a restrictive covenant on the title, that no other hotel could be developed and operated by the purchaser of this site.
Jurys plc at that time operated seven other hotels in Dublin city and was obviously endeavouring to minimise future competition.
On acquiring the Berkeley Court some three months later, Mountbrook Homes successfully negotiated the removal of the restrictive covenant and the right to build a hotel on the combined site, if we so choose. It is our intention to include a hotel in the proposed redevelopment of Jurys/Berkeley Court. Given that your newspaper has not seen our plans I am amazed you chose to make the false assumption that no hotel would be built on this site again. In fact, I am amazed that you have chosen to make any comment at all on our plans, given that such commentary is akin to judging a beauty competition in the dark.
The current owners of the Jurys Doyle Group are the Doyle and Beatty families who took Jurys plc private in 2005. Jurys Doyle still control and own the operating companies for both Jurys and the Berkeley Court Hotel.
The decision to close both hotels was taken by Jurys plc and in respect of which neither any of my companies nor I had any hand, act or part.
My company only takes ownership and control of Jurys Ballsbridge on September 6th with no residents, no employees, and the contents from the doors of the bedrooms to the elevators removed - in essence a carcass.
Prior to Jurys Hotel closing this month, we sought to acquire, intact, the full contents having been approached by other hotel operators who had an interest in keeping the hotel in operation until development commences. The owners refused to sell us the contents for reasons only known to themselves.
I have, however, successfully managed to purchase those contents which were for sale in the Berkeley Court and over the next couple of months will investigate the viability of keeping that hotel open for the foreseeable future. Ownership and control of the Berkeley Court does not pass to our company until October 8th.
Your article also stated that Jurys and the Berkeley Court are two thriving, profitable hotels, a statement obviously made without any knowledge of the profitability of these properties. In 2005, Jurys plc, in the best interests of their shareholders, decided to dispose of these two hotels. I fully understand why the company decided on this course of action.
Good economics is based on the return of capital and the reason these hotels were sold is that Jurys plc were no longer realising an adequate return on capital deployed in relation to both properties. The "ruthlessness" you refer to in your article is also hypocritical given that The Irish Timesitself embarked on a controversial rationalisation programme over the past four years for similar reasons, namely: disposing of its head office - a Dublin landmark]
Irish Times, letters page, Tuesday, August 28, 2007 wrote:DEVELOPMENT IN BALLSBRIDGE
Madam, - Sean Dunne's letter of August 24th set a worrying precedent: it took up half the page and ran to a couple of thousand words. This is over-development of the worst kind. What about the higher density you regularly encourage from your letter-writers? This is epistolary sprawl.
Who in your department fast-tracked it through? Have we no right of appeal?
On a less serious note, I hope he builds better than he writes. Ouch. - Yours, etc,
DAVID P JAMESON, York Road, DÃºn Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.