Grafton Street, Dublin

Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Daragh » Sat Jul 30, 2005 6:15 pm

Now that the final stage of the O'Connell Street redevelopment plan is about to proceed, does anyone think that Dublin City Council should start work on redeveloping, or at least improving, our main street south of the Liffey?
For what is supposed to be Dublin's best and most fashionable street, Grafton Street has become increasingly run down, dirty, and not to mention smelly over the past few years! The entire street is also in dire need of being properly repaved. However, what the Council has continually decided to do is simply throw down a few new red bricks every time a new section of the street is in need of work. The result is that the street paving now has at least 20 different shades of red brick! Not very pleasing to the eye indeed. And as for the smell which comes from those bins....!
Also, I read with interest in the Irish Times a few days ago that the Council, along with local retailers, are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of retailers on the street. These concerns would appear to be well founded when one considers that yet ANOTHER convenience store opened up on the street several days ago.
I really fear that the same problems which befell O'Connell in relation to its lack of high-quality retailers are going to befall Grafton Street as well. And while the Council has said that it may look at ways in which it could regulate the types of retailer that can open up on the street, it also says that it doesn't want to interfere with the free market either. However, if Grafton Street is to be saved, and prevented from turning into a tacky street full of Centra shops and fast-food outlets (i.e. another O'Connell Street) then action will need to be taken. The Council's blasé attitude to the increasingly tacky types of shop which are opening up all over the city centre is all the more surprising when one considers the intense competition which the city centre is now under from out-of-town shopping centres, such as those in Dundrum and Liffey Valley etc.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby ihateawake » Sat Jul 30, 2005 8:30 pm

i completely agree, grafton street is in dire need of renovation and quailty retailers, especially if it is to justify such high rent. if it really is "the fifth most expensive shopping street in the world" as rte/tv3 claimed months back, then it is greatly lacking in class compared to the other four
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby dave123 » Sat Jul 30, 2005 8:42 pm

i agree, Grafton street has had better days,
Now its Under threat from the likes of Dundrum shopping centre and competition from northe side streets eg As Henry street which is really coming close in ranks to Grafton street for shoppers and crowds.
i heard that Grafton street takes something like 12,500 pedstrains per day , which is huge figure, but it has remain static throughout the , considering the consumer spending and population explosion of the city!
While Henry street is thriving and it pedstrian figures is about 11,500 and increassing , due to a number of international retailers such as Zara and more comming and since the Ilac centre is been redevloped H&M will be moving there next year too. so its bad news for Grafton street!

A lot of existing and well estblished businesses on Grafton street are moving elsewhere to the likes of wicklow st and suffolk street, due to the outrages rents

by the way the pavents could do with a facelift!
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby PVC King » Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:18 pm

ihateawake wrote:"the fifth most expensive shopping street in the world"


I'm not so sure that this actually the case in that the rents quoted for Grafton St represent a rate per square metre that only treats the first 6 metres back from the front at the rent before falling to 50% for the next 6 metres back and so on. I think that in many of the Cities quoted the rent taken has no such discounting on the basis of proximity to the frontage and simply reflects an overall rate per metre.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby GrahamH » Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:36 pm

Might as well chuck in another 'I agree' :)

Yes Grafton St needs a Special Planning Control Scheme as the CC are suggesting, as well as Architectural Conservation Area status given the diverse range of architectural styles and building types on the street, and the thoroughfare's importance in the city centre.

Agreed about the paving, it is in a terrible condition at this stage. There is as Daragh says a crazy paving effect being generated now with the amount of patched up areas. The street is constantly under repair - don't think I've walked down it in two years without cones and tape erected somewhere. And even then these works simply don't have the phyiscal ability necessary to cover all areas: there's always loose bricks or white tiles somewhere.

For some strange reason though, I think the 'heritage' look works very well on Grafton St - it just suits it.
I'd hate to see it get the cold Barcelonisation treatment - rather the traditional feel by and large should be maintained with the street furniture, though perhaps given a simpler more streamlined look, and crucially a warm paving scheme kept.
The rust coloured granite that's used on Henry St as a mere accent to the dominant grey could be used as the main stone on Grafton St for example - maybe with basalt as the accent.

I think the warm colour of Grafton St's paving is what makes the street stand out in the city and should be kept.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby ihateawake » Sun Jul 31, 2005 7:12 am

http://www.rte.ie/business/2004/1027/cities.html

just quoting what i heard from infallible RTE :rolleyes:
but even so, both rates(front and rear) were most likely taken into account, anything but an average would surely not be considered accurate.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby StephenC » Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:09 pm

It is amazing how all these convenience stores can afford such high rents. In fact Fifth Avenue NY must be awash with Centras and Spars!
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby GrahamH » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:39 pm

Dick Gleeson Chief Planner in DCC, Frank McDonald and Senator David Norris were on the radio this morning discussing (and one reminiscing ;)) the proposed ACA and Special Planning Control Scheme for Grafton Street. You can hear it below. First item on the programme, it starts just after 4.24:

http://www.rte.ie/rams/radio/latest/rte-todaywithpatkenny.smil

Seemingly there's a big landbank to be exploited behind the old Habitat.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:51 pm

At first there I thought you were going to make us listen to Ryan Tubridy.:eek:
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby Morlan » Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:16 am

Haha, that old English gent in hilarious.

"I'm an old FART, but I'm not a roaring snob!"

"Up Grafton St., the pooong of cheap sent, music blaring, street blocked by rock artists, ghastly!"
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby GrahamH » Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:39 am

You've never heard of David Norris? - shame on you!
Over Christmas he was on the telly reenacting a war of words he had with a scanger on O'Connell Street over throwing her burger wrapper on the ground - God I never laughed so much in all my life. If only to hear it again...

I managed to convince Mr Kenny on the radio the other morning to hop on his bike and get up to Dundalk to marvel at its (if somewhat embellished :D) architectural wonders. Better get the good china out.

Can be heard here a few seconds after 1:13.45:

http://www.rte.ie/rams/radio/latest/Wed/rte-todaywithpatkenny.smil

Was going to slip in a plug for Archiseek, but he wouldn't have read it out then! Maybe next time...
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby Morlan » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:06 am

lol lol

"Hanging bastkets, PVC windows, a virtual treasure trove,"

Great :D The way Pat reads it too, so poetically!

"I've driven through Dundalk many time.. and.. well.. I've managed to miss all that!" :D
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby GrahamH » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:52 am

That last part made me laugh too :D
Think 'drive through' explains it all somehow though...

Yes, it's easy to work to his style when mailing him - he does like his hyphens :)
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby jdivision » Mon Jan 30, 2006 3:49 pm

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.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby Daragh » Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:11 am

Well it's about time soon. At least the Council appears to have learnt from its mistakes and is trying to avoid Grafton Street becoming another O'Connell Street. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel this decision is still coming a few years too late. Does anyone know if its possible for the Council to terminate any of the existing leases on the street? I heard a rumour that this was what the Council was going to try to do to the fast food outlets on O'Connell Street..
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:45 pm

It is possible under the SPCS of O'Connell Street (as with all SPCSs one would assume) in the form of forced change of use rather than termination of lease as far as I know - presumably sub-letting would come into play in such a case. It seems its a tactic they are reluctant to use.
I wouldn't say it is too late to change things but agreed that Grafton Street has been allowed get out of hand for far too long. As usual response-led tactics are the order of the day...

What I'd like to know about Grafton Street is why is it such a busy thoroughfare? It's not particularly near the central business district of Baggot St/Merrion Square, nor are stores that populate its length any more appealing than elsewhere in the city. Are people just naturally drawn to the place as a popular route though the city, or is it the fact that it's a pedestrianised street that makes it seem more busy to the average eye than it really is? (though obviously statistically it is).

I can never understand why the place is so busy, nor why people would want to avail of the majority of its shops: they're busier then elsewhere, probably more expensive, and nothing particularly special. It seems that it just happens to be sited on a natural nodal point of sorts in the city, where pedestrian activity overlaps and intensifies. Or is it a combination of the various factorsmentioned above?
I don't know - other than I tend to avoid the place like the Plague; can rarely see the appeal of it at all.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby Morlan » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:33 pm

Graham Hickey wrote:I can never understand why the place is so busy, nor why people would want to avail of the majority of its shops: .


I can't remember the last time I bought anything from Grafton Street, apart from the odd bag of Tayto in the newsagents. I do make a point of walking up the street though when I'm in town. I like the vibe of the place and all those other little streets to the west of Grafton St.

I'd love to see Clarendon and South William Street predestrianised. You'd have to remove the carparks there, I'm not sure how easy that would be. The two streets are unperforming and a bit rundown but there's still a great vibe in the place.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:48 pm

Experts say special Grafton Street planning restrictions won't work
Archiseek / Ireland / News / 2006 / February 7
The Irish Times

Special planning restrictions aimed at reversing the spread of mobile phone shops and convenience stores along Grafton Street are likely to backfire, according to a number of landlords and property experts. Two weeks ago Dublin City Council (DCC) proposed transforming the capital's main shopping thoroughfare into an architectural conservation area (ACA) following mounting concerns over the street's deteriorating character. The new planning designation will give the local authority strict control over what types of businesses can trade from the street and it's expected that mobile phone shops, convenience stores and pharmacies will be among those retailers that are in future either limited or excluded from the prime shopping thoroughfare.



Could someone please post the full article I am interested to see which particular genius is of that opinion.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby d_d_dallas » Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:31 pm

Presumably being a landlord on that street makes one an expert!
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:45 pm

Agreed ;)

But it is equally relevant to acknowledge that Dublin City Council are equally a landlord in that they depend heavily on Commercial rates to keep the City maintained.

Grafton Street is arguably the premier Mall in what is the Nations biggest Shopping Centre; vital to the success of any thriving shopping centre is a vibrant and diverse tenant mix. I would be very interested to see 'the experts' that deny that a diverse tenant mix in terms of use is in the Streets best interest.
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby cobalt » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:10 pm

Here's the full thing...
Experts say special Grafton Street planning restrictions won't work
Gretchen Friemann

Planning&Development: Special planning restrictions aimed at reversing the spread of mobile phone shops and convenience stores along Grafton Street are likely to backfire, according to a number of landlords and property experts.

Two weeks ago Dublin City Council (DCC) proposed transforming the capital's main shopping thoroughfare into an architectural conservation area (ACA) following mounting concerns over the street's deteriorating character.

The new planning designation will give the local authority strict control over what types of businesses can trade from the street and it's expected that mobile phone shops, convenience stores and pharmacies will be among those retailers that are in future either limited or excluded from the prime shopping thoroughfare.

But property experts claim such interference in the market is counter-productive.

They argue that restricting certain retailers from acquiring leases simply "incentivises" the current undesirable occupiers to remain trading on the street and creates an unpredictable market dynamic.

The fear is that under the ACA, leasehold values on certain properties will shoot through the roof making it harder for new, more attractive retailers to gain a foothold on the thoroughfare.

For example, mobile phone companies pay top rents for their outlets but, if special planning restrictions limit their numbers, then their existing leaseholds become a scarce commodity. That means any retailer looking to buy-out the lease has to fork-out key money significantly above the going market rate. And, according to Stephen Murray, head of retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, "restricted" companies - like the mobile phone shops - could then be faced with "reverse premiums" if the leaseholds were impossible to sell at the adjusted value. In other words, the blacklisted retailer would have to pay another user to take over the terms of the lease if it wanted to exit the street.

Murray argues that since few companies would agree to such a transaction, given the stratospheric rental terms they currently trade under, the ACA would "ironically be preserving" Grafton Street's retail mix rather than enhancing it.

However, Dick Gleeson, head of planning at Dublin City Council, maintains the special planning restrictions will improve the area's appeal by offering easier access to certain retailers.

Over the past few years supply constraints on Grafton Street have blocked the arrival of international fashion houses and Gleeson claims the ACA will ensure new traders are of a "quality and standard" that is appropriate for Ireland's most famous shopping location.

If the scheme is adopted as an amendment to the city development plan by the end of the year, as Dublin City Council hopes it will be, landlords and tenants will no longer be able to award a lease to the highest bidder.

Instead the local authority will have the final say over what retailers can occupy Grafton Street.

A list of "difficult users" will be compiled, identifying retailers that are banned from the thoroughfare and specifying other users that are only allowed in limited numbers.

But, as property experts point out, Dublin City Council does not have a successful track record in controlling city centre retailing. Seven years ago the Ann Summers sex shop chain won its battle to open an outlet on O'Connell Street after it challenged the local authorities in the High Court.

Some property experts argue the Grafton Street ACA could precipitate similar legal disputes.

They also claim the mobile phone shops, convenience stores and pharmacies which have been at the centre of an increasingly bitter debate about Grafton Street's tarnished image would have been flushed out by the forces of the free market.

Hugh Linehan, head of property with Hibernian Investments, which owns six shops on the thoroughfare, insists the mobile phone outlets are temporary traders, more concerned with marketing than clocking up sales.

"It's difficult to imagine they can reconcile these high rents with the number of products they are selling. I think this is all about maintaining a high-profile image."

And he claims retailers, like the phone shops, will inevitably relocate as the demand for space increases from other users.

Yet it is this constant churn that has most incensed local politicians and lobby groups, such as the Dublin City Business Organisation. They blame the institutional funds, which own large chunks of property along Grafton Street, for mismanaging the area and undermining its appeal to the general public.

Over the past 12 months more than half a dozen shops have changed hands, most of them prompted by rent reviews where landlords have pushed for leases to increase to the latest Zone A benchmark.

It is the highest churn rate in 20 years and has almost culled the street of indigenous retailers.

However, Niall Gaffney, the investments director with IPUT, a property pension fund which owns five outlets on the thoroughfare, including the O2 Experience shop, insists Grafton Street's problems could be solved by developing the surrounding area.

"Henry Street really is stealing a march on Grafton Street at the moment because it has large-scale sites that can accommodate key tenants, like Arnotts and Roches Stores. So the most effective way to improve the retail mix on the southside is to offer more space and that means developing the large landbanks that surround Grafton Street.

"They're going some way to address this supply crunch with the South King Street and South Anne Street schemes but we need the local authorities to concentrate their efforts on encouraging more of these developments."

And he pointed out "you don't attract big name retailers by slapping down ACAs. How many have moved into O'Connell Street as a result of similar planning restrictions? Henry Street proves the only way to attract these companies is by providing high-quality, large-scale units."

© The Irish Times
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:19 pm

Thanks for that Cobalt and how revealing it was to ;)


Gretchen should have her brief/future with the IT seriously considered after that article;
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby cobalt » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:34 pm

[quote="Thomond Park"] ] Eh??:confused:
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby J. Seerski » Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:23 pm

While Grafton Street maybe Dublins busiest street, it has a lower spend per user than that of Henry Street.

Grafton Street serves two main purposes: as a main shopping street and as a main pedestrian thouroughfare linking the city to St. Stephens Green and its associated office district. As such many of the users are simply going somewhere else.

However Henry Street is more of a shopping Street than Grafton Street. It is not used as a thouroughfare in the sense that Grafton Street: it is not a link to any major business or commercial district. People mostly use Henry Street as a shopping destination.

Is there not a contradiction in DCC seeking to improve the street by discouraging certain retailers but being interested in attracting Zara and its ilk? Surely this would accelerate the decline from a unique and high class shopping destination to a monotonous 'high street' repeated ad nauseum throughout Britain? In attempting to get Zara etc, it would involve knocking some of the smaller units together - destroying the variety of stores on offer on the street.

Over the past century, once prosperous thouroughfares became economic backwaters and similarly once ignored streets became dominant retail districts. In the 1950s, O'Connell, Sth. Gt Georges and Thomas Streets vied with Henry Street and Grafton Street for attracting the mass of shoppers. Given the increasing attractiveness of Georges Street and Liffey Street for shoppers, may we be seeing other streets eclipsing the tired and jaded established retail core?
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Re: Grafton Street

Postby ihateawake » Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:15 am

looks like i got what i was looking for, although on a much smaller scale:D
a television screen advertising smart telecom has been erected just under the budweiser sign on the top of grafton. Its my hope that this area will evolve into dublins time square/piccadilly circus... :o well not that cluttered as it is a small area, but i think a larger screen or two would suit. how does everyone else feel about screens in the city???
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