Shopfront race to the bottom

Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:05 pm

You can open a copy of the shopfront submission from the An Taisce website - www.antaisce.org (second item down)
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:15 pm

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:56 pm

Well done to AnT
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby onq » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:11 pm

I think it needs more than a naysayers charter to properly regulate the signage.
Businesses need to be able to advertise their wares and the planning laws regulate this.

The problem shown by An Taisce is that existing planning laws and decisions seem to be ignored.
Whey then are they not using Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to take legal action?

My thinkfully limited experience of this Section is that if action is initiated by the public the Council will weigh in.
O'Connell street's restaurants and fast food outlet's have always had a seedy air of grandeur since the old Sunflower days.

A consistent and rigorous approach to advertising, lighting andsignage needs to be urgently imposed to prevent futher dacay.
Otherwise we'll end up with a capital city that looks like some sad version of Peterborough - and let's face it, that'd be depressing.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:27 pm

Everything An Taisce said is probably true, but unfortunately there always seems to be a faint – there goes the neighbourhood - tone to An Taisce pronouncements, however well intentioned, especially when they’re accompanied by clearly disdainful references to ‘lower-order shops’ and ‘cheap garish signage’ etc. etc.

The decline in the standard of streetscape presentation and the poor quality of public realm in general are huge issues for Dublin, but we also need to acknowledge that traders are actually the lifeblood of the city and ‘up-market’ will only ever be a part of the trading spectrum. I mean straight away there’s going to be a disconnect with your target market if your shop-front presentation is polite and restrained and you’re business is selling burgers and chips for 3.99 . . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The manager of Supermac’s made a reasonable point about his unauthorised projecting signs: ‘. . . without these signs, which are less garish and more delicate than the flat signs, people could walk by and not even know we’re there.’

I think we need a planning policy that recognises the reality that some businesses are dependant on a high-volume, transient, market and these business are probably also dependant, to some extent, on having high-impact signage, or else they risk going bust.

As I’ve said before on this topic, I think this presents a design challenge that the design community hasn’t risen to yet.

Other businesses clearly don’t come into this category and are just taking the piss.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby onq » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:27 pm

I think we can be too precious about our architecture.
Some of its deserved, some of it isn't, but signage is a perennial bugbear.
Someone should post the old "ideal" perspective of Sackville Street and measure how its changed.

It will change again - and colour, flags, lighting - in fact almost any form of ceremony around buildings causes difficulty.
If An Taisce only looked back without the rose tinted glasses to Classical times, whence Many of O'Connell Street's references arise.
They'd see a culture that celebrated all kinds of enjoyment using their buildings that might perhaps offer several solutions to the current visual mess.

Just a thought.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:26 pm

Onq you miss the point on this; as someone who works in retail real estate I can say that there is no way you can ignore the design quality of a specific street in terms of which streets are successful and which aren't; particularly on secondary pitches.

There is no way that any landlord if these streets were shopping centres would allow any of the signs highlighted in this report. Shops become vacant eithert through insolvency or retailers simply not renewing leases; then the focus goes to filling the space, 90% of leasing decisions are made on receipt of the brochure, could you presaude a retailer that has no presence in Dublin to book a flight on spec to consider a store opening in a shop immediately adjoining any of the shopfronts highlighted in this report; conversely if the opportunity offered is a shop displayed by a well taken photo with a clean shopfront such as BTs or Karen Millen or McDonalds adjoining, then that agent presents the opportunity with the prospective tenants signage phot0shopped in, would you rather present Polskadeli or Karen Millen. Go figure....

What makes the situation even more tragic is that through empty property rating relief the councils own lack of signage enforcement is actually costing them money as retailers are deterred from taking space. Dublin needs to have a superior urban environment as there is no cost advantage and domestic consumption although begining to stabalise needs tourist revenues to become bouyant again.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:03 pm

I broadly agree. I think it is too easy to row back on current 'thinking' regarding shopfronts for fear of over-regulation, as is fashionable at the minute in a number of spheres. It is not that regulation has not worked, or that guidelines are too onerous - rather the model has not proven to work yet.

I agree some businesses need high impact on the streetscape, but very simply you choose your pitch according to your requirements. What on earth are Supermac's doing in a Protected Structure featuring a deeply modelled ground floor facade, a narrow street frontage, with limited scope for signage on a fully fitted Victorian shopfront? Simply put, they shouldn't be there. It doesn't suit their needs. By contrast, their O'Connell Street outlet has considerable streetscape impact by virtue of its prominent corner location and expansive glazing. Problem solved. The interior on Westmoreland Street doesn't suit them either - long and narrow, with limited scope for seating, a cramped staircase catering for a high volume of patrons, and a soaring high ceiling that neither matches their image nor their business model - paying for airspace rather than floorspace. Westmoreland Street should not have to suffer the loss of a prestigious retail unit nor quality streetscape for what is a bad business decision.

The other aspect to bear in mind is that if everyone is on the same playing pitch, the competitive streak is negated and the whole urban environment becomes more sedate. In this respect, clever design gives retailers a competitive edge rather than who can shout the loudest. Likewise, redesign of the public realm is a critical component in changing how shops interact with the passing pedestrian. In the case of Westmoreland Street and Dame Street, pavements are so narrow and congested that shops cannot even be seen. Is it any wonder retailers jostle for attention in the loudest manner possible.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:25 pm

Supermacs took the former Beshoffs on the basis of the retail being zoned grease; they are limited in the premises they can take due to the policies in the development plan limiting proliferation of take away establishments; what may be appropriate is to take the same approach to take aways as pubs and make them licensed and allow the licenses to be transferred; that way a change of use application from the late 1980's could be reversed and Supermacs get a unit that is better suited to their needs.

I agree on a level of balance, but to be fair to the reports authors every one of the signs highlighted are so inappropriate as to render balance an inappropriate word in the same sentance. I highlight the McDonalds signage as it is far from classical, far from invisible but it is successfully applied in so many diverse locations. If an international retailer can get it right; why can't a local operator who should be nimbler in planning matters.

I take your point on the footpaths; but only by significantly reducing the level of buses will the specific pedestrian experience improve at this location; if Luas were run down here and buses relocated this would go back to the Wide Streets Commissioners vision of the grand boulevard.

It really is a pity the way signage is done at this location on the borders of the most frequented tourist zone in the City.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:02 am

Interesting to note (and weird of me to notice, I know!) that Costa have removed the flag banners and protecting signage from their unit on College Green. And that the Thai restaurant on Westmoreland Street has removed its unauthorized projecting signage. And that the unauthorized Chinese restaurant at 76 Dame Street has now applied for retention change of use. Interesting that...
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:04 am

:wave: double post removed
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:30 am

double sized sign removed


To be welcomed, the finishes maketh the City in visual terms.....
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:06 am

StephenC wrote:Here's a snap of the less than desireous shopfront on Mary Street. A prime pitch on the city's premier retail street should be aspiring to a lot better than this. The window transfers seem to be obligatory.

Image


Retention permission for this shopfront refused by DCC:

1. The shopfront, by virtue of the provision of substandard design, a horizontally emphasised appearance that does not relate to the existing architectural context of the building in terms of building line, the provision of substandard materials in the form of plywood fascia board and plasticated lettering, the provision of external downlighters, the provision of opaque/patterned screens to the main windows and the provision of external roller shutters is contrary to the Shopfront Design Guide and the Shop Front Design Guidelines for the O’Connell Street Area and to Sections 17.25.2 and 17.25.3 and Policy RD7 of the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017. The development has a seriously injurious impact on the character and setting of a protected structure and on visual amenity of the immediate conservation area and protected structures and would depreciate the value of property in the vicinity. Consequently, it would set an adverse precedent for similarly substandard development, is contrary to the provisions of the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017 and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:14 pm

Everyone's favourite convenience store on Wellington Quay has undergone a facelift (of the Jackie Stallone variety?)

Yeawh! Jwackie!
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Where's young Devin?

All permitted and above board? Not quite. Here's an excerpt from the Planner Report...
Planning Assessment:
The proposal is for works to both shopfronts of the Centre located in Temple Bar and which stretches out onto Wellington Quay. With regards the proposal for Temple Bar it is considered that the removal of the iron gates which presently are used for advertising is considered to be acceptable and that these are not part of the historic fabric of the building and therefore it is considered reasonable that they are removed. The siting of two display cases on either of the door is not considered to be acceptable and it will be condition that they be omitted from the development.

The applicants propose to site signage on the red brick archway, which is to be made of bronze built up letters backlit with fixing pins in mortar joints cap. It is proposed to have the archway fitted with simi-circular translucent opal glass panel with aluminium frame. The design is considered to be simple and will not detract from the character of the protected
structure.

The Wellington Quay side of the proposed removes the existing timber shopfront and instead sites the centra sign in aluminium which is backlit and to have it directly attached to the wall. Over the sign then is a glazed canopy on powder coated steel tees anchored to the masonry wall. It is to project 0.5m from the wall and is composed for 5 panels. The new
shopfront is to consist of a steel frame which is to be powdercoated in white to match the Ha’penny bridge. A grey polished granite plinth is proposed which is .25m high.


The following sections of the Dublin Corporation Planning Dept Shopfront Design Guide 2001 apply:
Page 19 item 1 identifies the necessity for a strongly defined framework ,
Page 20, section 1 – Fascia
• “Normally, fascia depth should not exceed a quarter of the distance between the fascia’s lower edge and the pavement.”
Page 23, section 1 – Fascia Signs
• “Letter design should be simple and legible. The dimensions of the fascia should dictate the size and height of the letters. Letters of more than 40cm will not normally be acceptable.”
Page 30, section 9 – Illumination of Shopfronts
 “ External illumination of the shopfront should only be considered where the lighting can be subtly concealed by feature details of the building.”

The proposal as it stands with regards the Wellington Quay shopfront has a strong defined framework in the non traditional sense and the letters are individually mounted. The lighting of the shopfront is also considered as proposed to be acceptable.

Reasons and Considerations
Having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed works it is considered that they would not seriously injure the residential amenities of the area (eh? :eh: )and would not adversely affect the character and setting of the protected structure and subject to compliance with the conditions set out below it is considered that the proposed development accords with both
the City Development Plan and the proper planning and sustainable development of the


Sorry, a lot of guff there but you see the rationale. So bronze and aluminium lettering. Hmm I see yellow plastic. Also the permission included a very illuminating condition "The finishes of both shops fronts shall be of high quality" Great, except thats not defined.

I wont make a mountain here...maybe its alright, inoffensive, stylish, smart and contemporary. I dunno. Its not what they said they would do though. And how long till the banners, stickers, posters and neon tickertap arrives to add to the gaiety of the proceedings.

Meanwhile, next door, Merchants Arch, which had made a great stab at renovating the building into a pub, plonks three large flagpoles in front of their building. Why! Don't they realise that visitors photograph this spot hundreds of times a day! I dont get it.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:12 am

Stephen, this is what got permission at the Wellington Quay facade. Repainting of the facade a terracotta colour 'to re-establish the redbrick colour of the riverfront' - fine. And aluminium lettering in a pale colour with caps measuring 350mm and lower case 300mm. See architect Cathal O'Neill's statement below.

But, the usual convenience store scenario - you get permission for one thing then do something else, in a city with no planning enforcement. As if Dublin needed another yellow building ... with canary yellow sign lettering, much bigger than the permitted size.

Image

Image
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby davidarthurs » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:04 pm

The wrath of the so called 'Temporary Banner' continues - I notice a large temporary ad banner has been placed directly on top of the Stella Cinema signage in Rathmines. Looks Horrible.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:13 pm

I think Wellington Quay is proof that shopfront design is now a lost art.

. . . . notwithstanding the fact that the person who submitted that planning drawing appears to be twelve years old
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby onq » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:51 pm

For me, less is more than a bore - its a dearth of design and originality.

Its the politically correct style-less style so believed of moderns.

What's really annoying is that the shopfront is the worst of stripped modernism and makes no reference to the forms and complexity that the original displayed.
In terms of forming and expressing design in a language borders on "Ugh!"

Kitsch acanthus leaves, scrollwork, raised and fielded panels and pilasters it may have seemed to some.
But the relevance to the social context of the time was a known quantity.

Whereras the slick metal and glass effort above is something a dog wouldn't piss on.
Just because my namesake Cathal knew Mies and worked with him doesn't mean he can't move on.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:55 pm

Honestly reading all that shit, for that shit and then when they get that shit permitted they build different shit!

"The steel shopfront would be carefully detailed"..."clarify the proportions of the opening"... and best of all...

the simple elegant facade....will raise the image of the Quay and help reverse the downward trend".

Shocking. So utterly cynical and shocking. Okay so its only a bloody shopfront but really to submit all that crap and KNOW that what you were going to construct would have the opposite effect. That is so cynical.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby onq » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:58 pm

PVC King wrote:Onq you miss the point on this; as someone who works in retail real estate I can say that there is no way you can ignore the design quality of a specific street in terms of which streets are successful and which aren't; particularly on secondary pitches.

There is no way that any landlord if these streets were shopping centres would allow any of the signs highlighted in this report. Shops become vacant eithert through insolvency or retailers simply not renewing leases; then the focus goes to filling the space, 90% of leasing decisions are made on receipt of the brochure, could you presaude a retailer that has no presence in Dublin to book a flight on spec to consider a store opening in a shop immediately adjoining any of the shopfronts highlighted in this report; conversely if the opportunity offered is a shop displayed by a well taken photo with a clean shopfront such as BTs or Karen Millen or McDonalds adjoining, then that agent presents the opportunity with the prospective tenants signage phot0shopped in, would you rather present Polskadeli or Karen Millen. Go figure....

What makes the situation even more tragic is that through empty property rating relief the councils own lack of signage enforcement is actually costing them money as retailers are deterred from taking space. Dublin needs to have a superior urban environment as there is no cost advantage and domestic consumption although begining to stabalise needs tourist revenues to become bouyant again.


Thanks but as someone who has specialsied in designing commercial buildings I'm not oblivious to the needs of the street or the stakeholders.

I didn't suggest that the design quality should be ignored at all - I said that we could learn lessons from how these matters were dealt with in the past.

Heck we could go to Europe which had similar shopfront and se how they have handled their streetscape.
But we don't need to - all we need to do is make a list of the worst of it and submit it with recommendations to the LA.

Any takers?

In the past there were a lot of useful ideas that could look spectacular now - reinventing the shaded awning for one thing.
Requiring a "look" to be adhered to for groups of shops for another, to return a more uniform look to each shpw and quiet down the advertising.

Once the advertising on buildings escapes from the control of the architect or once the architect starts packaging elevations as candy wrappers, with each clashing with its neighbours, it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

I'm a great fan of learning from the past - as opposed to sheepishly and slavishly repeating it, but those arches... aghk! Are they original?

Dire.

At least in the way they are currently treated.

And the pilaster resting on nothing, neither base nor bracket?

Who designed that elevation?

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:16 am

There is little question that Dublin city centre is falling apart at the seams in how it presents itself, and in the standard of business aspired to by the city’s merchant class. The quality of product on offer to citizens and visitors, both in terms of cultural and leisure experience and retail and service provision, is plummeting on most of the city’s principal streets.

In addition to all that has been charted above, a new ‘cafe/bar’ has just opened at the apex of Westmoreland and D’Olier Streets as a result of an application lodged in 2010. Rightly highlighted by An Taisce as comprising an over-intensification of large bars in this part of the city, this place in effect is a superpub, with a menu of frozen 'foods' that can be chucked in an industrial fryer. Truly, the gastronomic excellence demanded of this strategic corner site in the city centre. This is a drinking den with carbs on the side. As is now the norm in Dublin, they have just erected cheap, over-scaled signage across the former Manchester United store on both street elevations that in no way accords with the permitted signage. Furthermore, extraordinarily, mind-bogglingly, they have just erected a giant double-height plastic pen on D’Olier Street around the inset former shop entrance, consuming the majority of the pavement here, for use as a smoking area! You couldn’t make this stuff up. Even as I stood open-mouthed at it, two young chaps passed by commenting: "What the hell is that? That's just weird!". Meanwhile they currently have a licence application lodged for street furniture that, in effect, they have already erected.

Not withstanding the ignorant, non-compliant goings-on here, the very fact business enterprise in this city both views – and is allowed – to operate such a use, complete with bouncers on the door at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, speaks volumes about the standards of urban life aspired to in Dublin. Instead of a stunning, genuine cafe or bistro or restaurant in this marvellous Victorian building with wonderfully atmospheric interior of timber-lined ceiling, cornicing and handsome detailing, directly overlooking O’Connell Bridge, it has a silly themed interior that actively seeks to conceal any indication of the quality and provenance of the premises. The level of thinking borders on primitive.

The same is true of the recent redevelopment of the supremely elegant former Merchant’s Hall building at the Ha’penny Bridge. Instead of a high quality, never mind world class, restaurant overlooking the Liffey from a first floor dining room, a low-grade restaurant catering for British stag parties, with naff showhouse interior, 90s disco music and LED colour changing lights on the ceiling, sets up shop in on one of the city’s finest historic premises, while at ground floor level a faux Edwardian pub occupies the ground floor with completely unauthorised mezannine level, fixtures and fittings. Outside, three trashy plastic flagpoles have been erected with Guinness flags, a banner sign hangs from a first floor window, music blasts out across the river from externally mounted speakers, and further unauthorised signage is erected within Merchant’s Arch itself! Another premier asset is lost to the city. But as long as the Chamber is happy, ach shure isn't dat all that matters.

Directly across the Liffey, one of the Wide Street’s Commissioners houses at the entrance to O’Connell Street – arguably the most strategic (and defaced) terrace in the city – has just been painted highlighter green! The ENTIRE building! You can see it from as far away as Pearse Street, never mind outer space. The shopfront has been commandeered by a giant banner fascia and full-scale window postering advertising BUDGET ACCOMMODATION further down the quay in the Abbey Court, while every other shopfront on this critically important terrace is unauthorised. Nokia have also been getting away with the most lucrative unauthorised advertising site in the city, at the expense of the city, for nearly a year now. The Abbey Court itself was also being repainted, incedentally – bright purple – when I passed on Sunday.

And it goes on and on. Every street in the centre now is simply out of control in relation to unauthorised retail developments, while tawdry uses of second hand bookstores, milkshake bars, takeaways and convenience stores fill ever more vacant units. Very soon things will reach a tipping point that is nigh on impossible to pull back from. It is disheartening when even the hilariously overpriced and supposedly high class Olesya's Wine Bar on Exchequer Street has just erected an illuminated box sign, 1970s-style, three floors up on the turret of the South City Markets! It has since migrated down to first floor level, pretty much in line with the equally unauthorised galvanised steel flagpoles tacked around the strategic corner offices of ODOS Architects. Here's hoping they kick up a fuss on both fronts - even in spite of their penchant for illuminated light boxes.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:28 pm

Agreed Graham... but back with that Centra - what's with the horrible littl glass and steel (I hesitate to use the word awning) yoke over the shopfront? And it's in the design too - what's the architect thinking? 21st century version of Parisian metro entrances? Horrible little shopfront.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:30 am

GrahamH wrote:The same is true of the recent redevelopment of the supremely elegant former Merchant’s Hall building at the Ha’penny Bridge.... Outside, three trashy plastic flagpoles have been erected with Guinness flags, a banner sign hangs from a first floor window, music blasts out across the river from externally mounted speakers, and further unauthorised signage is erected within Merchant’s Arch itself! Another premier asset is lost to the city. But as long as the Chamber is happy, ach shure isn't dat all that matters.


You should see their new "Olympia style" archway over the main entrance!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:32 pm

Oh I saw it last evening! It's rare enough now that something startles you in Dublin, but I nearly keeled over at this one. A giant polycarbonate porch with metal substructure tacked up over the carved fanlighted doorcase!!! Complete with grammatically incorrect lettering for good measure. Meanwhile, this same shower are also in the process of erecting crude suburban floodlights along the length of the public alleyway of Merchant's Arch, with their cabling just slung over the stonework. These in turn will serve to highlight their newly erected plasterboard slab ceiling in the passage! This, the architectural finish to most important enclosed right of way in the city! Firenze eat your heart out.

This isn't gombeenism - it's not even primitive: it's plain caveman tactics.

Oh and for good measure (aside from the minor issue of the entire building being gutted from top to toe over the past month), West's of Grafton Street has had an entire side of its shopfront gouged out in the past few days.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby urbanisto » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:53 pm

Merchant's Hall

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