Saturday 21 April 2018

Clerys' owners aiming to restore iconic store to its former grandeur

An artist's impression of the plans lodged to develop the department store and Earl Place
An artist's impression of the plans lodged to develop the department store and Earl Place
The plans include a precinct for retail, offices and restaurants
An artist's impression of the new-look Clerys
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The new owners of the iconic Clerys building on Dublin's O'Connell Street have lodged a planning application which if approved will see it restored to its former glory as part of a new precinct for retail, offices, restaurants, bars and boutique hotel.

While the proposed development is set to be the subject of intense public scrutiny in view of the controversy which blew up around the shock closure of the famous department store, several aspects of the plan by new owners OCS Properties are likely to be seen as sympathetic to the building's history.

According to the plans lodged with Dublin City Council, the original feature stairs in the building will be restored and continue to provide access to the former Clerys Tea Rooms, which were frequented for decades by the store's customers.

That nod to tradition is set to be juxtaposed with the addition of a new 'roof top destination' populated by bars, restaurants and entertaining spaces.

The developers say the spaces will be available for both day and night-time use by visitors and locals alike, and offer the public a unique vantage point from which to enjoy panoramic views of Dublin city.

The ground, lower ground and first floors of the building are to be set aside for high quality retail while the former department store's upper office floors are to be opened up for letting to local and international companies. OCS believes the office space will be of interest to the fintech, TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) and creative industries.

Earl Place, a side street which up to now has been largely neglected, is poised to be rejuvenated should the planning application receive the council's approval, with plans for a new boutique hotel.

Commenting on her company's plans for Clerys, OCS Properties director Deirdre Foley described it as "the start of a new chapter" for the building.

"O'Connell Street is the historical heart of our national capital and deserves an iconic redevelopment like this," Ms Foley said.

The submission of yesterday's planning application represents the culmination of 12 months' work by leading Dublin architectural firm Henry J Lyons, aimed towards the delivery of 350,000 sq. ft of space which Foley said would both modernise and restore the grandeur of the Clerys building.

She said: "We hope that this will be a major catalyst for change in the city centre and for O'Connell Street and that it will help to generate a renewed vibrant quarter."

"Our vision for this iconic building at the centre of O'Connell Street is a catalyst to restore the street as our most vibrant shopping and social hub for visitors and locals to enjoy and be proud of."

The submission of the planning application for Clerys' former premises is the third significant recent development for O'Connell Street and its prospects of being restored to its historic status as Dublin's foremost thoroughfare.

On July 21 last, Dublin City Council extended the original planning permission granted in 2010 to developer Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land for the redevelopment of a site stretching from the former Carlton cinema on O'Connell Street to Moore Street up until May 2022.

The plans approved by council planners would see the development of 82 retail units, 22 apartments, 3.23 million sq ft of office space as well as 14 restaurants.

While the Dublin Central site is now under the ownership of UK property group, Hammerson, Joe O'Reilly is set to be engaged by the company on the project as its development manager.

Dublin City Council's decision to extend the original permission for Dublin Central comes ahead of an appeal by the State of a court order protecting Moore Street as a 1916 "battlefield site".

In another boost for O'Connell Street, this weekend sees the Luas tracks being laid across O'Connell Bridge as part of the Luas cross city project.

The installation of the Luas line will see the return at the end of 2017 of north and southbound tram traffic on O'Connell Street for the first time in more than 68 years.

Irish Independent

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