Dublin City Council (DCC) is to engage in a "market sounding exercise" about its plans to turn the city's Victorian-era fruit and vegetable market into an indoor retail food venue.
The council has planning permission since 2015 to turn the market at Mary's Lane, near the Four Courts, into a facility to rival Cork's English Market or the Covent Garden market in London.
It has now launched a new process "to gather industry views on the feasibility of delivering a retail food market", according to a public information notice in recent days.
"The project would include the financial provision, conservation and upgrade works needed to the building, fit-out and associated infrastructure to allow for a food business use in this protected structure," it said, adding that it now considers "a design, build finance and operation of the market is a possible contracting solution". DCC added that it is "open to exploring all other proposals which would meet the Council's aims with respect to the market".
The €3m development would see just under half the 6,000 sq m building used for wholesale, with the remainder used for the food market.
Last August, the council launched a tender to find an operator for the food market. But some councillors argued that a private sector operator would likely price out small-scale fruit and vegetable sellers in favour of a more expensive high-end offering.
The council said last week that "the re-imagined market will respect its past and showcase the best of Irish food producers. This will be an exciting, vibrant community of food producers, food for now and fresh produce. It will have an ethos of direct linkages between production and consumer, as well as an international element".
Sunday Indo Business