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Eastern promise as city bosses plan an official Oriental Quarter

A CITY centre street is being rebranded Dublin's Oriental Quarter -- as business groups and traders come together to create a new vision for the area.

East Parnell Street, which runs from the top of O'Connell Street to Gardiner Street, already houses a host of Asian restaurants, supermarkets, hairdressers and shops.

And Benjamin Wen, the owner of Mitsuba restaurant on Parnell Street, is one of the traders trying to create a new vision for the street.

"In the past few years Parnell Street has been improved a lot from image and safety points of view.

"And I hope we will get more and more people from anywhere in Ireland to come to the Oriental Quarter in Parnell Street," added Mr Wen.

"The street used to be a very messy street, but now it's getting better. If we can improve a better image of our street and upgrade the street it would be better also."

Widened footpaths, redesigned shop fronts, outdoor seating for restaurants, and more street lighting are all being recommended for the new eating quarter.

Dublin Civic Trust will publish a study on Parnell Street next month which is the third in its series -- the first two being on Capel Street and Thomas Street.

The Trust's planning adviser Stephen Coyne said: "The street study will contain some new ideas and energy for the street.



vibrancy

"It's about looking at the businesses on the street and showcasing what they do.

"The street at the moment is in very poor condition and we're looking at how the shop fronts are maintained and the upper floors. A lot of the street is shuttered and it's poorly lit at night.

"[The street has] taken on this quality of an Asian area with the restaurants and it's become very well known. The businesses there have been attracted because of the cheap rents. Before this, people didn't see it as a good place to set up."

He added: "The Asian community has taken it on and brought it alive. The street definitely has a vibrancy and it is starting to push out along the street."

Meanwhile, Lorcan O'Connor, chairman of Dublin City Business Association, said it is trying to get Dublin City Council to enforce "a rate holiday" for businesses which open in the area.

And each landlord on the street will be requested to improve the appearance of their building fronts in some way.

"The idea has developed organically to some degree, but now it needs some investment put into it. It's trying to define the area and grow it like a Chinatown, but we don't want to exclude the other ethnic groups either."

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council added there is an objective in the development plan "to assess the potential of Parnell Street, Capel Street and other areas for the creation and promotion of ethnic retail and restaurant clusters".

But she added: "There would need to be careful planning and discussions with local communities before any plans are made."

hnews@herald.ie


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