Graham Hickey wrote:Dick Gleeson Chief Planner in DCC, Frank McDonald and Senator David Norris were on the radio this morning discussing (and one reminiscing ]www.rte.ie/rams/radio/latest/rte-todaywithpatkenny.smil[/url]
Seemingly there's a big landbank to be exploited behind the old Habitat.
Hugh O'Regan, formerly of Thomas Read Group, is buying up properties there. Below is an extract of what I wrote in Dec in The Sunday Business Post. It outlines main redevelopment plans for the area at present, although I've since written about Shelbourne's plan to turn the Royal & Sun Alliance building into a dept store.
By Neil Callanan
The Grafton Street Arcade is finally expected to be redeveloped into a department store style format next year.
Property sources said the arcade, which is owned by Marks & Spencer, has already been quietly put up for sale and about half a dozen potential tenants are interested in buying it.
Rent is likely to equal, if not better, the previous Zone A record for the street, which was set when River Island agreed to pay e13,750 per square metre a year for its shop on the street.
Since the River Island deal the mix of shops on the street is generally regarded as having worsened, partly because Dublin City Council failed to introduce restrictions on the number of mobile phone shops opening on the street.
The strong demand for large shops on the street was further underlined when Treasury Holdings offered to pay e6 million to the Campbell Bewley Group to buy back the lease to Bewley's on Grafton Street, which the group had decided to close.
The offer emerged during a court case taken by Treasury, which was concerned about internal works under way at the restaurant.
several sources said that if Treasury's bid had been successful, the shop would almost certainly have been relet to Spanish retailer Zara, which is anxious to open a shop on the street.
Conscious of the lack of suitable store formats on Grafton Street, the council is actively encouraging the creation of larger store formats in the area and favours expanding the retail centre to the west of the street towards South Great George's Street.
This would link Dublin's main retail centres -- Henry Street and Grafton Street -- via Temple Bar and South Great George's Street.
The council's new focus will be helped when property developer Joe O'Reilly builds his shopping complex on South King Street on the site of the former Eircom offices next to the Gaiety Theatre.
The demolition of the building is scheduled to start in January. However, O'Reilly would have had the chance to enlarge the 7,400 square metre centre, if he had not been outbid by fellow property developer Bernard McNamara for a row of shops on Chatham Street at the back of the building.
McNamara bought the shops as part of a portfolio of investments earlier this year. O'Reilly's scheme will open in the autumn of 2007.
The next major redevelopment project in the area, according to retail sources, is likely to be the College of Music, which is also on Chatham Street. It is expected to be sold next year.
On the Dawson Street side of Grafton Street, there is also likely to be major changes. The Royal & Sun Alliance building and the Hibernian Arcade are prime redevelopment opportunities.
Publican Hugh O'Regan has been purchasing a number of buildings in the area. He bought the former Hibernian United Services Club on St Stephen's Green and last year he acquired an office building behind the club for e10 million.
He has since leased this building to Dermot Desmond's casino, The Sporting Emporium.
O'Regan is also believed to have been the underbidder for the former Habitat store on St Stephen's Green, which adjoins the former Hibernian club. It has since reopened as Topshop after a e3 million premium was paid for the leasehold interest on the building.