Mixed emotions as Liberties facing major redevelopment

by Rachel Darcy

Dublin City Council is to take back possession of the Iveagh Market site in the Liberties from current leaseholder Martin Keane.

It is reported that the council has given Keane until the end of this month to surrender the building.

Following the market’s closure in the early 1990s, Dublin City Council announced in 1996 that it would seek a private developer for the site.

Picture: Sorcha McManigan

The Iveagh Market site was initially tendered to Keane in 1997. The council agreed that he would receive the full title of the market once redevelopment of the site was completed.

A lengthy dispute between the council and the Iveagh Trust over the ownership of the land meant that Keane could not apply for planning permission until the issue was resolved in 2004.

He was granted permission by An Bord Pleanala in 2007, and in 2012 secured a five year extension of planning permission, which expired in August, 2017. The council now threaten that if Keane does not voluntarily remove his possessions from the building before the end of the month, they will change the locks.

Keane will be refunded the €2m paid for the lease; however, Keane is reluctant to return ownership of the site. Keane has vowed he will fight “tooth and nail” and has vowed to take Dublin City Council to court to hang on to the building’s lease.

In 2015, Keane was quoted as saying that that he aimed to have the project completed by early 2018. He is hoping to build a €100m cultural and commercial hub in the old building, complete with a hotel, pub and apartments. He has previously cited London’s Covent Garden and Boston’s Quincy Market as his main inspirations for the project.

€25m aparthotel plan to see final curtain for Tivoli

The Tivoli Theatre on Francis Street looks set to be demolished to make way for a new aparthotel development, currently named Tivoli Square.

Initial plans to demolish the Tivoli were proposed by theatre owner Anthony Byrne, and were initially rejected by Dublin City Council last May.

The plans were rejected due to the height of a block on the northern boundary of the site. The €25m plans have now been given the go-ahead following an appeal by Byrne.

Local councillors have slammed the decision by An Bord Pleanala to approve the plans, with members of Fianna Fail and Labour saying that the proposed plans will add to an “over-concentration” of hotels in the city.

Designed by consultant firm Douglas Wallace, the scheme is set to include restaurant units, a gym, a shop and a cultural arts venue which will replace the Tivoli.

Alongside this will be a 260-bedroom aparthotel, with an overall floor area of more than 107,000 sq ft.

Some residents are saying that a rising number of developments such as Tivoli Square are “ruining the identity” of the area. Plans were also announced in the last week by US hotel giant Marriott for a €40m ‘digital’ hotel in the Blackpitts area of The Liberties, set to open this spring.

Many locals are calling for the development of more affordable housing in the area, condemning the rise in hotels, AIRBNB lettings and student accommodation blocks around Dublin 8.

Local Liberties resident Diarmaid Kehoe said: “Once again, a thriving city neighbourhood is starved of what it really needs – homes for local people to keep the community going”.

Another local resident, Brian Tiernan, said: “This surely must be the most hotels in a square kilometre in Dublin now.”

However, not all are opposed to the new development. Local community group, The Liberties Business Forum, welcomed the redevelopment of the standing Tivoli site, citing it as a “major boost” for the locality.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Stephen Coyne from the group said: “The aparthotel will encourage more city visitors to choose The Liberties as their base in Dublin. That in turn benefits local shops, cafes and venues.

“While it is a shame to see the existing Tivoli Theatre go, the new development includes a performance space and venue and that will only add to the number of attractions in this part of the city.”

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