€50m CHQ centre future in doubt as more shops close

CHQ Building IFSC

Eimear Rabbitte

It was once hailed as Ireland's most exclusive shopping centre but the CHQ building in Dublin's docklands is today the retail equivalent of a ghost estate.

CHQ, which cost €50m to set up, has been less than half full since 2010.

There have been more closures in recent months and the shopping centre has been up for sale for almost a year.

Following the departures of ladies fashion boutique Fran & Jane and homewares store Meadows & Byrne in recent months, Louis Copeland is now the only fashion retail store left in the shopping centre.

Coffee chains Insomnia and Starbucks, salad bar Toss'd Noodles & salads, wine store Mitchells, Ely restaurant, a hand bag store and a florist also remain in the building.

The struggling shopping centre in the IFSC is under the ownership of the Dublin Dockland's Development Authority (DDDA).

The building was put up for sale by the DDDA last March and is still on the market after the semi-State body failed to receive a buyer.

The CHQ building is currently under review by real estate agency Lisney on the instruction of DDDA.

Speaking on behalf of DDDA, Duncan Lister of Lisney told the Herald: "We are looking at all of our options, everything from selling up to different types of uses for the building and we will know more in the coming weeks."

Master tailor Louis Copeland told the Herald that he plans to stay on even as fellow retailers desert the up-market shopping centre. He said the location worked for his business.

"We do well because we get a lot of passing trade with the people who work in the surrounding buildings and they all need suits," Mr Copeland said.

"Business definitely builds up from this type of customer and we are happy to stay here."

And Mr Copeland, who owns the men's designer store, added: "It's a fantastic centre if all the shops are occupied. We're not doing badly."

Mr Copeland is not giving up on the building and hopes to see more businesses setting up.

"It is a beautiful building and there are places like Insomnia and Starbucks that do well there at lunch time when there is a passing trade.

"We would love to see more people opening up shops in the building, it's just about getting the product right," he said.