Whatever about the concerns expressed about the details of the new scheme for Grafton Street, one can't deny that the work is progressing speedily and with a minimum of disruption. In fact the contractors are powering through the project and one could imagine the street being completed by the end of the summer. The team are currently finishing pavement outside Brown Thomas.
The street is seeing a great deal of activity: the new Massimo Dutti store has transformed the former HMV premises on the street, a NAMA-funded development is taking place at the southern end and a number of sites have popped up on Duke Street and South Anne Street.
It would appear that the street is at the start of a period of improvement - sorely needed. My one concern is that a rather bland approach to shopfronts has developed. A lot of plate glass and stone facing and colour is sorely missing - everything is cream and white.
Once upon a fantasy time, we were talking of this street as one of the prime retail pitches in the world (that hubris beggars belief now). What is happening is that retail has condensed down to the two main cores in the city centre and the major multiples are finally starting to spend a little on new stores and new looks in a bid to attract custom back from the suburbs. It could only have gotten better for Grafton Street.
Dublin City Council have finally responded to the dismal condition of the public realm in the area, which hardly matches the hive of smart boutiques and eateries clamouring over each other in the area from Grafton Street to South Great Georges Street, by developing a Public Realm Strategy for the Grafton Street Quarter. http://www.dublincity.ie/YourCouncil/Lo ... nDraft.pdf
The current condition of Duke Street and South Anne Street in particular is disgraceful.
The draft was on display until Nov and a final version is awaited. It is reported that the Council is likely to roll out improvements over 3 years, but I hardly think this is achievable. There are many good proposals in the Strategy, even if it shies away from any major rethink of the area.
All in all, things are looking up for the city's prime retail area, which has descended into a rather depressing condition in recent years. There's an expansion of the retail area into Dawson Street (Tower Records opening soon in the former Waterstones) and even to College Green (the former National Irish Bank hall being converted into H&M). In fact the development of retail on College Green is most interesting, its surely a matter of time before Ulster Bank too decamp. Some high profile retail tenants makes a greater case for a greater pedestrian space at College Green. The current mess of College Green is a disgrace - signage posts, clutter, those ill-considered lighting standards. Lets try and make a space worthy of a capital city centre.