Sunday 24 June 2007

Council seeks partner for Charlemont St redevelopment

Dublin City Council is seeking partners for a public-private partnership that will redevelop the five-acre Charlemont Street flats in Dublin 2.

The move is likely to attract huge interest from developers, because of the site’s proximity to the city centre.

‘‘Interested developers are expected to deliver a high quality mixed use development to further enhance an area which has been subject to significant renewal over recent years,” the council’s brief states.

Most of the existing flats were built in 1959. There are currently 181 flats in five-storey blocks, with open staircases and deck access.

Dublin City Council is looking for 155 social housing units, with the number of own door dwellings maximised, as part of any deal. In addition, it is also seeking 20 affordable dwellings and a community centre with an indoor seven-aside football pitch.

The project’s partner will be chosen under the competitive dialogue process. This allows the council a larger degree of flexibility than was previously available to public bodies, when conducting initial negotiations and discussing bids.

The new rules were brought in as a recognition of the difficulties involved in large or complex projects under the old public procurement rules.

Any scheme developed on the site is likely to include a significant amount of offices, given the central location of the flat complex. Tenants in the immediate area include Bank of America, Investec, HSBC, Regus, Hibernian, Eontec and Arthur O’Hagan solicitors.

The Grand Canal passes close to the site, which is a short walk from St Stephen’s Green and is also close to the Harcourt Street Luas stop. It is also within walking distance of various DIT campuses, as well as Griffith College and Trinity College.

The Charlemont Clinic adjoins the site, and it is also within walking distance of St James’s Hospital. Residential apartments would be likely to sell well in any redevelopment.

Two-bedroom apartments in the Cosgrave-built Harcourt Green scheme opposite the flats sell for €500,000.

The Charlemont site includes the Ffrench Mullen flats at the front of the flat complex, which were designed and built during World War II.

The original intention was to have this type of flats built along the entire side of the street, but in the end, only that complex was built.

The flats were designed by Michael Scott, who was also involved in the design of Busaras and the Donnybrook bus garage, and whose practice eventually became Scott Tallon Walker.

Discussions regarding the future redevelopment of the Charlemont Street flats have been held on an on-off basis for at least four years.

Last year, the council held numerous discussions with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding the site.

Eventually, the council decided to propose a more ‘‘radical and positive long-term solution for the area’’ according to the minutes from a local area meeting in May.

‘‘The new proposal is for full demolition of the block of flats (except Ffrench Mullen House) and their replacement with modern new dwellings together with community, leisure and general precinct facilities,” the minutes from the meeting state.

September 21 is the closing date for submissions in response to the ‘‘call for competition’’, as the council terms the redevelopment opportunity.

Charlemont Street takes its name from the first Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfield. He was elected commander-in-chief of the Irish Volunteers in 1780, and became known as the Volunteer Earl. The Casino in Marino was built for him.

Other Dublin City Council public-private partnerships for the redevelopment of flat complexes include Fatima Mansions, O’Devanney Gardens, St Michael’s in Inchicore, Croke Villas and St Theresa’s Gardens.

Sunday Business Post

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