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Glitz on Grafton St 'will woo back the shoppers'

GRAFTON Street's economic woes are to be tackled in a plan to attract more shoppers.

The area's problems since the recession hit have been well documented, from over-priced rents to empty units.

Now, Dublin City Council is formulating initiatives aimed at winning back families who go to places like the Dundrum Town Centre and Blanchards-town instead.


Labour councillor Mary Freehill (Lab) has chaired meetings involving commercial property consultant Neil Bannon and council officials.

At the last meeting of the local authority's economic strategic policy committee (SPC), Mr Bannon said the Grafton Street area needed to be critically examined.

He wants the council to look at the experience of shoppers from the moment they leave their homes to their arrival at Grafton Street -- in other words from the "driveway to the till".

The local authority should examine what their experience is "at every point" with an emphasis on ease of access, Mr Bannon told the Herald.

It should look at "the whole journey and back again", he added.

Mr Bannon said it is about "making sure people's journeys are easy and letting them know what Grafton Street has to offer".

He added that entertainment and "theatre" were now a big part of a shopping trip.

"People expect to be entertained," Mr Bannon said, adding consumers were looking for "bang for their buck".

Assistant city manager Michael Stubbs told the SPC that -- before finalising a design for Grafton Street -- Peter Leonard, a landscape architect, would present the idea of introducing interesting ways of utilising the thoroughfare's space.

Ms Freehill, chair of the SPC, told the Herald "nothing has been agreed" but the idea was to look at how "we can make the city more attractive to come in to" from the point of view of families as well as individual shoppers.


"We need to have more draws, more exciting things on the street -- everything is on the table. (It is about) recognising what we need to do to make Grafton Street attractive, what will bring people in," she added."

Ms Freehill pointed to St Patrick's Day festivities as an example of "terrific work" done by the council to encourage people into the city.