herald

Sunday 25 June 2017

Facelift for south city centre aims to attract shoppers and tourists

How Chatham Street will look when work is completed
How Chatham Street will look when work is completed

A major renewal of Dublin's south city centre will get a further boost with a new phase of paving works and street improvements.

Re-paving and an enhancement of pedestrian facilities will begin in Chatham Street, Harry Street and Balfe Street when a contractor is appointed by Dublin City Council in the coming months.

Appearance

It is part of the council's Grafton Street Quarter Improvement Scheme which has already resulted in the completion of works to Grafton Street, Johnson's Court and a section of Wicklow Street.

The project aims to attract more shoppers and pedestrians to the quarter by tackling the deterioration in the area's appearance.

It covers an area stretching from Molesworth Street across to Lower George's Street and Stephen's Green and down to Dame Street and Trinity College.

Tiles and bricks are being replaced with granite slabs and streets will get new trees, flowers, seating and public lighting.

A council spokesman said new designs "are being finalised in respect of proposed public realm improvement works in Clarendon Street and Clarendon Row".

The plan, which has been ongoing since 2013, was devised in response to calls for action to revitalise the south city centre.

The council's executive summary said the area "must cope with difficult trading conditions and compete with the major suburban shopping centres".

It added: "Other local problems that threaten the area's long-term viability range from a growing imbalance in the mix of uses to the deteriorating quality in shop-front design and a dated public realm.

"This plan proposes a series of interventions and initiatives in response to these wide-ranging and challenging issues."

The report said Dubliners had a real interest in protecting the character of the area.

"Our consultation process revealed a real fondness and appreciation for the Grafton Street Quarter," it said.

"There was a strong wish to reverse a perceived downgrade in the form of numerous fast-food outlets, mobile phone shops and generic multi-national chain stores."

Quirkiness

The quirkiness and individuality of one-off shops and businesses was found to be highly-prized by Dubliners and domestic and overseas visitors.

Some streets in the area were shown to be growing in public affections.

"South William Street is fast becoming the hidden high street of the quarter, with niche and alternative retail uses beginning to colonise the rich Georgian legacy of the street," the report said.

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