PLANS to rejuvenate Dublin's Victorian fruit and vegetable market into an artisan-style food hall will be a much needed boost to the north inner city, say development supporters.
Dublin City Council plans to renovate the market, currently occupied by a number of wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower sellers, into a 40,000 sq ft space for food retailers such as butchers, cheesemakers, fruit and vegetable sellers, bakers and other artisan producers.
It is hoped that the project will enjoy the same success as Cork's English market and is set to open in November.
The project could rejuvenate the Capel Street and Smithfield areas and help halt rising figures of small business closures and revive its derelict surroundings, partly owned by NAMA.
"A new, vibrant market will supply a catalyst for the regeneration of the area," says Tom Coffey, chief executive of Dublin City Business Association.
"Our view is to take this opportunity to take the market into a competitive situation.
"The food is Irish, low price and seasonal and will operate on the EU model of markets," he said.
The new market, will be modelled on the charming and highly successful English Market in Cork and similar European counterparts.
Previous plans for the market were included as part of the €425m regeneration scheme for the area that collapsed in 2008.
However, despite Dublin City Council's passing of the motion and its refurbishment of the building, the 12 wholesalers currently using the space are welcome to remain.
"We won't go back to the Celtic Tiger developers and their views for the city, we want to offer low cost, locally grown food that is economically efficient," said Mr Coffey.
The impact of food tourism has grown hugely over the past decade. London's Borough Markets and Barcelona's La Boqueria Markets attract thousands of visitors daily.
"Food is an integral part of the visitor's experience," said a spokesperson for Failte Ireland.
"Experiencing local foods and beverages which express creativity and embody cultural identity has become a sought after travel experience." Supporters of the artisan revamp to this sector say the focus on the use of local produce will offer the city a competitive edge.
"Expanding the range and scope of value-driven food related experiences for visitors, offering them a real sense of Irish food, people and place," a Failte Ireland spokesperson said.
The doors to the city's new artisan market, proposed to cost no more than €1m, are expected to open ahead of Innovation Dublin week in November.
"We hope to have the new market operating by Christmas and to initiate huge progress in one of the city's most derelict areas," said Mr Coffey.