Council pressing ahead with plans for Smithfield market

by Gazette Reporter

DUBLIN City Council wants to redevelop Dublin’s iconic wholesale Fruit & Vegetable Market to provide a commercial indoor retail food space.

The market off Capel Street closed last year after 127 years of wholesale trading and a tender will be issued for a private operator to refurbish and manage the space.

The local authority, which owns the Victorian red brick building, envisages a new outlet similar to Cork’s historic English Market.

Councillors have raised concerns over the potential ‘gentrification’ of the area and fear its character will be forever lost under the proposal.

Some warned that if the renovation and operation are taken over by a private contractor then small-scale providers could be priced out under any redevelopment. 

Others called for the market to be retained as a community asset and in public ownership – as is the case with Cork’s council-run English Market.

Opened in 1892 to facilitate Dublin’s market traders, Dublin City Council closed the wholesale market last August with the final eight traders relocated. 

The council was granted planning permission for the refurbishment of the building on Mary’s Lane in Dublin 7 in 2015 and now wants to press ahead with the project.

DCC recently invited industry views on how best to redevelop the market, with the closing date for submissions this Thursday July 30.

Its assistant chief executive Richard Shakespeare last year told a meeting of councillors: “People talk about the English Market in Cork, but we want a market with a quintessential Dublin feel. Something with a little bit of the magic dust of Dublin.

“Having this site in the middle of an area that is on the cusp of regeneration could kick-start the redevelopment of the whole area, really improving the quality of life locally.”

The council estimates that works on the building are expected to take around 18 months and that redevelopment could cost €3m once an operator is selected. 

DCC says it hopes to preserve the heritage assets of the building. The original fish market site, which was demolished and is being used as a car park, will also be included in the redevelopment.

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