Re: Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

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Yes Ulster Bank on College Green will be an interesting play Stephen. They wish to enter into a leaseback arrangement upon sale, for ten years, but the ground floor retail may possibly be up for grabs. Either way, if the market continues as it is, there is little question the building will be comprehensively redeveloped as an enormous retail site over multiple floors – effectively a department store, if the demand is there in years to come.

South Anne Street is beyond an embarrassment at this stage. I walked it only yesterday (I usually avoid the horror show) with my head in my hands. What a planning disgrace – banners, posters, projecting signage, sandwich boards, unauthorised shopfronts, garish colours, restaurants commandeering ‘pavement’ pitches as an extension of their own floorplate with permanent wall and roof structures – it’s unbelievable stuff. Like the worst excesses of uncontrolled bazaars in 19th century seaside resorts, or bonkers Asian cities. And this the approach route to ‘Ireland’s premier shopping destination’. LOL as they say. Where on earth is the pride gone? As for the street surface – well, there just isn’t one. It’s like hundreds of miniature volcanoes have erupted, pockmarking the street with craters in its wake. Goodness knows how this sorry mess is going to be cleaned up. I have to say, the Grafton Quarter visualisation for the street is very impressive, but curiously, the property management aspect of things isn’t exactly elucidated…

I am very surprised at the Massimo shopfront. It is thin, poorly detailed appliqué of the lazy kind, and unresponsive to its host building. In fact, it clashes with it, with its flimsy modernist pilasters of Spanish white limestone misaligned with the upper floors and unnecessarily interrupting the flow of its fascia. And the flush windows just add to the ‘applied’ character of the whole thing.

Believe it or not, this is the third attempt to get things right, with the applicant submitting planning, additional information and even clarification of additional information, in response to justly expressed concerns by the case planner about the character of the proposed shopfront and the clarity of information in the submitted plans. I think the initially proposed shopfront was far more appropriate – flush black stone cladding, with no pilasters, simply arranged as a series of crisply articulated frames around windows. Alas, the devil is in the detail, and planning just cannot engineer out clumsy design.

But agreed that it’s a sharpening improvement at least, and it does set a trend for higher quality materials on Grafton Street.

The pace of repaving is incredible! Certainly a case of on-time and (hopefully) on budget.

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