Dublin’s docklands redevelopers, who angered U2 by tearing down the group’s hallowed old studios, are giving Bono and his colleagues a high-rise penthouse replacement, the two sides announced today (Nov. 12). “The new Dublin is something I’m really excited about,” Bono told a press conference alongside leaders of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
Earlier this year the state-backed developers successfully fought U2 in court for the right to tear down a building at Hanover Quay where the band had recorded most of its albums since the early 1980s. The building became a place of pilgrimage for U2 devotees, some of whom spray-painted elaborate graffiti on its dingy red-brick walls.
The developers said today their plans to construct a landmark high-rise at nearby Britain Quay would have one key design requirement: U2 has to get the top two floors for its new studios. The two sides didn’t reveal the financial terms of the deal.
The four-member band is listed at No. 6 on the list of Ireland’s wealthiest business people. Together Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. own a major Dublin property portfolio and boast an estimated net worth of 676 million euros ($683 million).
As part of today’s announcement, U2 will be given a vote on the committee that picks the winning architectural design for the 180-foot (60-meter) tower.
Bono said he would have preferred to keep the old Hanover Quay studio with all its history and memories. “There isn’t really a price you can put on it. And whatever the Dublin docklands authority offer us, it’s not going to be enough, I can tell you that,” he said.
Bono said he hoped the tower would surpass most buildings constructed since Ireland’s independence from Britain in 1922. Dublin is renowned for its graceful 18th-century Georgian squares and neoclassical British government structures from the 19th century — and a dearth of inspired construction since.
“I think for all the years of supposed prosperity, Dublin has precious few extraordinary buildings,” Bono said. “Developers and builders have gotten away with a lot over the years… It was an extraordinary city way back when, but through corruption and cronyism it has been defaced.”
Peter Coyne, the developers’ chief executive, said he expected the project to attract proposals from around the world, partly because of the U2 connection. He expected construction to begin next autumn and be completed by 2005.
“This is a fantastic project,” Coyne said, noting that the Britain Quay site was “a magnificent corner of the docklands, with water all around it.”
The Dublin Docklands Development Authority has spent the past decade transforming Dublin’s long-derelict waterfront, where the River Liffey meets the Irish Sea east of the city center, into a major new business and residential center for the capital.
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