DUBLIN'S PROPOSED "Northern Quarter" retail district, for which An Bord Pleanála has granted approval, "is definitely going to proceed" despite the credit crunch and the associated economic downtown, a spokesman for Arnotts said last night.
The department store, which is spearheading the €750 million development, welcomed yesterday's planning decision, saying it was "delighted" - even though the appeals board substantially reduced the scale of the scheme, including the omission of a 16-storey tower.
A spokesman for Arnotts' chairman, Richard Nesbitt, said the board's decision "brings certainty to the whole Northern Quarter" after a lengthy planning process that had gone on for more than two years.
The spokesman said Arnotts and HKR Architects, which designed the scheme - and then had to redesign it at An Bord Pleanála's request - would be working with Dublin City Council in coming months to deal with the various conditions - 26, in all - laid down by the board.
"They [Arnotts] are very positive about this project and there's no question of it not going ahead. It is definitely going to proceed," the spokesman said, adding that "Mr Nesbitt sees this a long-term play by Arnotts".
The company would now be "working out a timeline before making firm decisions" and, given that the proposed development would take at least four years to complete, "it will be interesting to see what the economic landscape will be like then".
The 5½-acre site incorporates a prominent part of the city centre bounded by Henry Street, O'Connell Street, Middle Abbey Street and Upper Liffey Street.
According to HKR, it would turn Dublin's north inner city into a "state-of-the-art prime retail location".
"HKR's design for the regeneration of the Northern Quarter will create a unique and lively shopping and entertainment hub in the heart of Dublin's city centre" that would include a four-star hotel, 47 new shops, 14 cafes and bars and 121 apartments.
Jerry Ryan, HKR's managing director, described the scheme as "one of the largest and most significant regeneration projects to be undertaken in Dublin's city centre" and said his firm was "looking forward to moving forward and realising this project".
With some 90,000sq m (968,752sq ft) of commercial space, including major extensions to both Arnotts and Penneys department stores, the Northern Quarter is intended to complement the Dublin central retail precinct planned for the Carlton and adjoining sites on O'Connell Street.
Arnotts granted planning permission for scaled-down Northern Quarter plan: page 5; Editorial comment: 13
The Irish Times