Re: Re: DDDA / Docklands Miscellany
I included the Joe Stiglitz quote below, because it does say a lot about our own misperception of how development works. Developers in the docklands area supplied thousands of units of housing. Many of which now sit idle. Many of which now sit idle, only a stone’s throw away from the North Wall Quay site. There is uproar in the Irish Auctioneer and Valuers Institute over it. It is best not to put property on the market, if the demand isn’t there. There is not much use putting more residential units on North Wall Quay than already are there. Lets face it, we are talking about Carroll, a developer who has sold over 10,000 residential units in Dublin alone. He practically wrote the book on the practice of building apartments. The challenge of providing additional residential units in the future is a trivial matter to Carroll. What is important though, is the sequence of development. There is one miserable convenience store now serving over a thousand existing residential units (many empty or under utilised) in the North Lotts area. The convenience store made most of its revenue off construction workers building in the area. Go to the new square in Mayor St, completed a number of years and its doesn’t even have a late opening Spar. No lights turn on in the evening time. That is the sterile environment our Dublin Docklands masterplan has produced.
Whichever level of political governance you look at in this country, we do suffer from a flawed vision of development. Including the so called experts. To understand development, you have to get involved in it. Sitting by a typewriter, or even being a consultant architect who waves his/her clutch pencil in the air, simply isn’t enough. In the 1980s we produced graduates for export. People who were young at the time, will testify to the level of disillusionment it created. To have worked so hard to achieve academic success, but receive no reward. We privatised our telephone network without fully understanding the consequences of that. We built roads, to get from A to B, without trying to improve the situation in either A or B. We are always getting the sequencing wrong. From my several years of experience working for developers I learned a lot of basics. There is much more to the game than meets the eye. The fact is, in the docklands area, there currently isn’t enough activity to promote a reasonable demand to live there. I would love to have seen DDDA sponsor a young architectural firm to design and realise a new school for the area. Did that happen? No. Yet we speak about hypothetical families who will live in family apartments, but we have no schools. What did happen was 30 million Euro the DDDA had in its piggy bank, got lumped into a botched property deal with Bernie Mac. We aren’t facing up to the full extent of the problem, in thinking we can first build the apartments. It is worse than what happened in Tallaght and Clondalkin in the seventies. It is only when people work in an area, and begin to like the area – they wonder, hey, why am I driving from the midlands everyday. Why don’t I work/live in the docklands. To enable this, it is best to provide the work there first. Then demand for residiential will grow organically. Carroll is the only one who seems to get that.
While I am at it, I might as well say something about China. It always makes sense to say something about China, these days. The RTE report on prime time, rolled out some auctioneer who posed as an expert. Talking about an office development of 1/2 million square feet. Arup engineers alone, I know have 400 engineers working on mainland China on around 50 million square feet of new development. The smallest projects on Arup’s drawing boards are a million square feet. So in global terms (and lets try to think global) our total output of office space in Dublin per year is only equivalent to one and a half mini-sized projects in Beijing. Carroll’s project wouldn’t even be the size of a small project in Beijing. I love James Coburn’s line in A Fist Full Of Dynamite, “I was involved in a wee fart of a revolution back in Ireland.”
Brian O’ Hanlon
so the answer is you don’t know?