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8 Reasons Dublin 8 Is On Track To Be The Capital’s Next Commercial Hot Spot


Dublin 8’s commercial property stock is on the up and up, with a number of landmark projects underway or in the pipeline, including the new national children’s hospital, the largest capital programme in the state at the moment.

The area has plenty going for it — good value compared with the CBD, opportunities in terms of vacant sites, excellent transport links, and heaps of character and tradition.

Here are just eight of the reasons Dublin 8 is likely to be the capital’s next commercial hot spot.

Children’s hospital

Artist's impression of the €1B National Children's Hospital

Considered by some as a catalyst for much of the development in the area, construction of the National Children’s Hospital is costing €1.07B — just over €1B of which is being funded by the Exchequer — and is due to open in 2021. Bruce Phillips, area manager for Dublin City Council's south central area, has said the investment will lead to a lot of spin-off ventures in the area, both public and private.

The hospital will cover 12 of St James’s Hospital’s 50-acre site and will be seven storeys in height, providing around 1.7M SF of accommodation — including car park — and 6,150 rooms in total. It will have 4 acres of outdoor space, including 14 internal courtyards and gardens, one of which — the Rainbow Garden — will be the length of Croke Park.

Hotel accommodation

The hospital is expected to drive up demand for hotel and short stay accommodation in the area. Earlier this month, the Liberties got delivery of its first significant hotel with the opening of the Maldron Kevin Street. Meanwhile, the Aloft Hotel in Mill Street is scheduled to open later this year and the four-star Hyatt Centric is on track to be up and running in The Coombe next May. And businessman Harry Crosbie recently revealed his intention to develop a hotel behind the Vicar Street live music venue.

Whiskey galore

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Newmarket

It is not just the hospital driving the need for hotel accommodation. Dublin 8 is home to Ireland’s No. 1 tourist attraction — the Guinness Storehouse — as well as becoming an increasingly popular stop in the city’s whiskey trail.

This time next year, the Liberties will be home to four whiskey distilleries. When it launched in Newmarket in June 2015, Teeling Whiskey Co. was Dublin’s first new distillery in 125 years. Last August, the Pearse Lyons Distillery opened in a converted church after a €20M investment. Both facilities have visitor centres and provide tours and tastings.

Quintessential Brands is currently renovating a 400-year-old building on Mill Street and will open Dublin Liberties Distillery — along with the requisite visitor centre and a bar — in October. 

And Diageo is spending €25M on developing a whiskey distillery at its former power station at St James’s Gate. Production of the Roe & Co. whiskey brand is set to begin in the first half of next year. 

St James’s Gate Quarter

Computer generated visualisation of Market Street looking west toward the Guinness Storehouse

Meanwhile, the drinks maker commenced its search for a “world-class” partner to redevelop approximately a quarter of its 50-acre St James’s Gate site. Diageo’s plan is to create “one of the most dynamic urban quarters in Ireland and Europe” through a new mixed-use scheme that will be called the St James’s Gate Quarter.

The area for redevelopment is around the Guinness Storehouse and the proposed site could potentially accommodate 680K SF of office space, 54K SF of retail and 237K SF of hotel and leisure, as well as 500 new homes, according to a feasibility study submitted to Dublin City Council.

The plan is to include a mix of new buildings and existing vat houses, brew houses and cooperages and to open the space up with public spaces and streets that will be fully integrated into the wider Liberties area.

Five parties have been shortlisted by Diageo and its advisor Deloitte: Hines, Lone Star-backed Quintain, Irish developer Harcourt backed by U.S. opportunity fund manager Apollo Global Management, Singaporean developer Oxley and U.K.-listed developer U+I. The list will soon be whittled down to three before a final party is picked by the end of the year.

Grand Canal Harbour

Marlet Property Group lodged a planning application for a 592K SF mixed-use development on a 3-acre site just around the corner from the Guinness Storehouse on Grand Canal Place in May. The site has permission for six blocks — ranging from three to 12 storeys — with substantial office use.

The developer, which acquired the site last year, is now proposing to scrap the office space in favour of a scheme that would comprise 500 aparthotel rooms, a 256-room hotel and 638 student accommodation bedspaces. According to architect BKD, the development will also include hotel, café, retail and cultural uses, “arranged around a highly permeable new public realm”.

Newmarket  Square

Newmarket Square today.

The Newmarket Square area is also earmarked for a major transformation, with the Newmarket Partnership — a company set up by Martin Creedon (Creedon Group) and Robin Simpson (co-founder of Blenders food processing business) — and about to get going on a three-phase scheme to include office, retail, apartments, a hotel, a micro-brewery and gallery space. Planning has been secured on two of the three sites so far, while the third is with An Bord Pleanala at the moment. It is understood that the first phase will begin next year.

And Dublin City Council has plans for substantial public realm work in and around Newmarket — including a purpose-built market square, seating areas, tree planting and improved lighting. This work is not expected to begin until the Newmarket Partnership’s schemes are close to completion.  

Players Square

One of the biggest sites in the area still to be developed is the 10-acre Nama-controlled Players Square site, which includes the former Player Wills cigarette factory and the one-time Bailey Gibson packaging plant. The site previously had planning permission for 750 homes, as well as commercial and retail facilities.

According to a recent report in The Sunday Times, Nama is on the verge of agreeing a joint venture to develop the site, with Glenveagh Properties expected to emerge as the chosen partner.

Iveagh Market

Another important scheme yet to get off the ground is the proposed redevelopment of the Iveagh Market on Francis Street. In 1997, businessman Martin Keane was awarded a 500-year lease on the site by Dublin City Council for €2M. Keane got planning permission to develop a food market, along with hotel, pubs, restaurants, distillery, brewery, retail units and performance area. However, that permission has expired and the council is now understood to be negotiating to have the building returned to public ownership.