A 'PARK in the Sky' soaring 50 metres above Henry Street and commanding panoramic views across the capital is proposed under a €1.25bn redevelopment of Dublin city centre.
In what could be the biggest regeneration project of O'Connell Street in recent years, the capital's main thoroughfare will be transformed if developer Joe O'Reilly is granted planning permission for an ambitious shopping and restaurant quarter in the heart of the city.
Gone will be Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium, the Royal Dublin Hotel and a garda sub-station.
Instead, the 'Dublin Central' scheme -- which encompasses the Carlton Cinema site -- hopes to become an Irish Bond Street and home to fashion icons such as Prada, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and high-end jewellers.
It will also see the first apartments in 250 years being built on O'Connell Street.
After years of legal wrangling over ownership of the 5.5 acre site -- which is bounded by Parnell Street, O'Connell Street, Henry Street and Moore Street -- a development company set up by Joe O'Reilly called Chartered Land has announced it will seek planning permission for a new city quarter by the end of the week.
And the developers say that Moore Street traders have nothing to fear in the redevelopment.
Dominic Deeny, CEO of Chartered Land, says the market will be left in place and it is planned to turn Moore Street into foodie heaven, with specialist food stores opening beside the traders. "We want to encourage the markets to remain," he said yesterday.
The massive project will take up to three-and-a-half years to build, and 7,000 people will be employed during the construction stage. Up to 3,000 full-time jobs will be created when it opens in 2013.
In all, 100 shops will be built and 1.7m square feet will be developed, providing 700,000 square feet of retail space.
Two new streets will be created. As yet unnamed, one will link Henry Street to O'Connell Street and be host to high-street retailers such as Zara and Mango; while the other will link O'Connell Street to Moore Street.
The buildings of 14-17 Moore Street -- a national monument used by the leaders of the 1916 Rising for their last stand, will be turned into a commemorative centre.
Two listed buildings -- numbers 42 and 60 O'Connell Street -- will be refurbished and upgraded. An art gallery and performance space will also be created, while the facades of 12 protected structures will be retained.
The Carlton Cinema facade will be moved 50 metres north and become the main entrance to an anchor tenant, who will occupy a 200,000 sq ft store -- about the size of Debenham's on Henry Street.
A restaurant quarter on the fifth storey, overlooking the new streets, will be home to 17 cafes and restaurants. More than 100 apartments will be built, and social and affordable homes will be provided on site.
A thousand underground car parking spaces, accessible from Parnell Street, are also proposed.
But at the heart of the project is the Park in the Sky. A triangular building, home to 40 apartments and 12 storeys high, it will have a sloped roof on which the park will be built. Each side will be screened with glass panels, and it will be 50 metres at its highest point.
"We see this as being an 18-hour a day development," Mr Deeny said. "We want it to be primarily a family place. The whole idea is to draw people to the scheme, and it is to encourage tourists to come to this part of the city. We see this going from 5am when the markets open, to 1am when last orders in the restaurant are taken."
A planning application will be lodged with Dublin City Council by the end of the week.