Eyup Sancakli is assembling falafel wraps behind the counter at Do Falafel. He’s been working here on South Richmond Street nearly two years.
When he started, there were a few shops open across the road. A supermarket called Spiceland closed back in September, he thinks. Portobello Pizza and the homeless hostel are gone now, too. All the shop fronts along the block have metal shutters drawn down.
Most of the small businesses at the edge of the block bounded by South Richmond Street to the west, Harcourt Road to the north, and Charlemont Street to the east have closed in the last few months.
Back in December, a company called Slievecourt DAC applied for planning permission to develop it into an office block. Company records show that Slievecourt is owned by Clancourt Property Investments Unlimited. The Clancourt Group has been involved in various large projects around the city over the years.
Sancakli says having a shop like Spiceworld across the street had been handy, because if they ever needed more supplies, they could dash out and buy fresh vegetables, or whatever else they needed. He also thinks they shared a customer base.
“After they shopped, they came here,” he says.
Slievecourt’s planning application contains an outline of the plans for a mixed seven-, eight-, and nine-storey, 34,526-square-metre office block with two basement levels. There are plans for retail, cafe, and restaurant units.
The idea would be to demolish all the existing structures, except for protected structures at number 5, 6, 7, and 8 Charlemont Street, which the application says will be conserved, repaired, and refurbished. The developer is asking for a change of use of numbers 5 and 6 Charlemont Street to “cafe and ancillary use”.
There would be a “pedestrian plaza” to the rear of the conserved buildings on Charlemont Street, which might be open to the public during certain hours.
There would also be 130 car-parking spaces and 310 bike-parking spaces in the basement levels, with access from South Richmond Street. Existing private parking spaces along Charlemont Street would be removed, replaced by a set-down area.
One vacant plot that makes up part of the development, on the corner of Harcourt Road and Richmond Street South is currently owned by Dublin City Council.
The council put in a submission to say it doesn’t object to the land being included as part of the application – although it notes, as it always does, that it is up to councillors to agree on whether or not to sell a site.
Bigger, Better, Shinier
Down a graffitied laneway between Charlemont and South Richmond is Raw Gym, which used to have a shop front on South Richmond Street. Karl Brien is behind the front desk.
He says the gym will be moving away from that spot on 31 March. A new premises in Donnybrook is slated to open sometime in April.
Brien has worked at the gym for a few months, but he’s been a customer since it opened ten years ago, he says.
“Everybody that’s here is kind of here for seven, eight, nine, ten years, so it’s a nice little community we have.” But, Brien says, he’s looking forward to the gym’s new location. He says some members are either cancelling or pausing their membership until then.
“I think that’s everywhere now really. Everywhere is just getting knocked down to build up something bigger and better and shinier, with glass windows.”
Dublin City Council hasn’t made a decision yet on Slievecourt’s planning application.
On 15 February, the council asked for three bits of additional information from the developer and their agent, consultants John Spain Associates.
The Transportation Planning Division noted that the building as currently planned might overhang at the corner of Harcourt Road and Charlemont Street. This would interfere with potential changes to Harcourt Road as part of the National Transport Authority’s Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan.
They asked Slievecourt to “liaise with the Environment and Transport Department of Dublin City Council to ensure the proposed development does not impact on the proposed realignment works along Harcourt Road”.
Second, the application says the potential new plaza will be privately owned and managed, but it “will be open to the public for the maximum of hours that will support the retail and restaurant uses”. The developer has been asked to provide details about the management of access and the maintenance of the potential new public space.
Third, the planning division asked for more details to make sure any work on the listed buildings on Charlemont Street is done according to the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities and best practice.
Sancakli says more office workers in the area likely will be good for business at Do Falafel, especially at lunchtime. But those workers might also look for accommodation in the area, as he did when he started working at Do Falafel.
He checked out a basement room in a nearby apartment. It was going for €1,000 and was tiny, he says, “kind of like a cell”. He says he’s not sure whether that’s the normal price for a room in Dublin, but maybe it is “because many people [are] looking for it”.