The redevelopment of Clerys department store on Dublin’s O’Connell Street will provide a “new focus and heartbeat” to the city centre, a planning hearing has heard.
Architect Rory Murphy from Henry J Lyons said development of the existing building, constructed in 1922 but significantly altered over later years, would “reactivate” Earl Place and other under-used streets just off the capital’s main thoroughfare.
The proposed development includes refurbishment, extension and partial change of use of the Clerys Building to provide a mixed use retail, office, café, restaurant and bar development.
The building will be six storeys in height, and include a new rooftop viewing terrace which includes bars and restaurants, along with a 176-bedroom hotel.
“It is a very strong piece of architecture, from the same architects who completed Selfridge’s in London,” Mr Murphy told the An Bord Pleanála hearing.
“From the rear of the building, it (the existing building) is less successful. We’re looking to reactivate Earl Place, and allow active use. The Luas sits either side of the building and the movement of people will be quite considerable.”
Just under 3,000 jobs will be created if the scheme goes ahead, the applicant claims, but the plans are opposed by trade union Siptu which represents many of the workers who lost their jobs in June 2015 with little or no warning.
Some 460 staff, which included employees of Clerys as well as those employed by concession holders, were left without work after the store closed its doors after it was bought by a company, Natrium, for €29m.
Natrium is a joint venture between D2 Private, whose chief executive is Deirdre Foley, and a UK company, Cheyne Capital Management.
Clery’s was restructured in 2012 as part of a receivership process by its previous owners and bankers which resulted in the property assets being separated into one company, and the day-to-day retail business operation put in another.
When the operating company went into liquidation, staff were made redundant. Some working for concession companies may have been relocated to other outlets.
The State paid statutory redundancy to workers totalling €2.5m.
The planning hearing is scheduled to run until next Friday.
The applicants will call witnesses including planners and architects, while Siptu will call nine including Dublin City councillors, retail experts and historians.