Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative End of Year Report 2017

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The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative is a collaborative partnership between Dublin City Council and local stakeholders and businesses in the commercial streets of The Liberties Dublin. The programme is working to revive one of Dublin’s most historic and colourful districts to create a highly attractive area within which to live, work, visit and invest.

The Liberties Business Forum was established in 2014 to represent the interests of large and small businesses and stakeholders in Dublin’s historic Liberties district. The Forum works in partnership with Dublin City Council to oversee and deliver The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative. Its an organisation to lobby for increased investment and improved services for businesses in Dublin 8 and a partnership to promote The Liberties as an integral feature of the city’s commercial, social and cultural life.

This End of Year Report sets out the achievements of the Business Area Improvement Initiative and the Forum in its fourth year, 2017.


DOING BUSINESS WITH YOU Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative is working to transform the commercial heart of Dublin 8 through public and private sector investment, creating a more vibrant and attractive city neighbourhood. Our mission is to ensure that The Liberties is seen as an integral part of the city centre experience and that it becomes a location of choice for businesses across sectors as diverse as retail, tourism, craft food and drink, tech and media and healthcare. Among the highlights of our year: •

2017 saw the opening of Weaver Park, a flagship public amenity for the area and the first major park to be developed in The Liberties since St Patrick’s Park was laid out by Lord Iveagh in 1904. Look out for more enhancements in 2018 as a second park at Bridgefoot Street starts construction and a refurbished St Audoen’s Park reopens in the Spring.

Visitor numbers to the area rose again in 2017, bringing the culturally curious to Dublin 8. In August, The Liberties welcomed its newest visitor experience — the Pearse Lyons Distillery at St James’s — a stunning reimagining of a former church creating an iconic new attraction for Dublin. At year’s end, 1,000 new hotel rooms are under development in The Liberties at The Coombe, Blackpitts and Kevin Street.

The Liberties is very much open for business! We welcomed new additions to our main commercial streets —Thomas Street, Francis Street and Meath Street— and to the enterprise clusters in the area. Vacancies are down, demand for premises is very encouraging, and 2018 promises to see a number of great new opportunities to open shop here in Dublin 8.

The State’s largest infrastructure project, the National Children’s Hospital, advances at St James’s Hospital campus. The main hospital itself saw an impressive programme of campus renewal with the opening of MISA , a new private clinic, research facilities, improved circulation and staff facilities and progress on a new entrance to St James’s Hospital from Fatima Luas stop.

Dublin City Council now has an ambitious programme of public realm projects in place for The Liberties and its surrounds. An estimated €15m is being invested in streets, public spaces, green areas and amenities, and community facilities.

A series of major cultural events filled our calendar this year including the inaugural Culture Date with Dublin 8 in May, The Liberties Festival in July, a lively Culture Night in September, and a major symposium and community event marking the medieval Royal Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr in October.

Enterprise promotion was to the fore in 2017 with the publication of new brochures and online resources, participation in the inaugural ‘Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town’ competition, and a successful Liberties Enterprise Day in October.—showcasing entrepreneurship and small business. An inaugural Liberties Awards was launched by The Liberties Festival and its sponsor, Diageo, celebrating longstanding and new local enterprises and community activity in the area.


23k People across a 2km2 area call The Liberties home’. The population is young, international and diverse.

2,000 Students studying in The Liberties. 2,500 student housing places open/under development in the area.

A DYNAMIC MICROECONOMY 2 enterprise clusters, 190 companies, 1,200 entrepreneurs & employees.

CONNECTED & CONVENIENT 15 mins walk to College Green. Public transport links: national rail, Luas, bus and Dublinbikes

‘MUST-SEE DUBLIN’ 5 of Dublin’s top 20 visitor attractions are located in The Liberties. The Guinness Storehouse welcomed 1.6m visitors in 2016.

1.5bn Unprecedented investment is transforming The Liberties creating new homes, places of work, leisure and visitor facilities.

500+ Our business community is growing, welcoming new companies and services to Dublin’s original mercantile district.

WELCOME TO DUBLIN’S ‘INNOVATION DISTRICT’ Over €1.5bn of public and private sector investment is now being made to renew and revitalise Dublin 8. With a focus on collaboration between the hospitals, enterprise centres and third levels, we’re positioning the area as Dublin’s ‘Innovation District’. • ‘The Liberties: Live Work Visit Invest’ branding strategy launched with a promotional video for The Liberties in May. • Engagement with IDA to promote the attractiveness of Dublin 8 as a location of choice in the capital and to highlight the key sectors unpinning growth in the area. • Liberties Enterprise Day held in October to showcase investment and entrepreneurism in Dublin 8. • The Liberties shortlisted as Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town 2017. • New content for including the publication of a Retail Prospectus and an updated Investment Brochure for the area. Almost 15,000 followers across social media. Over 37,000 visits to in 2017. • Commencement of work at National Children’s Hospital at St James’s Hospital. Establishment of a Regenerating Dublin 8 Steering Group to build on the economic potential of hospital investment. • Completion of refurbished office developments on Thomas Street and Cornmarket. Commencement of works for office developments at Grand Canal Harbour and Thomas Street. Planning applications for largescale office schemes at Donore Avenue and Newmarket. • Announcement of St James’s Gate Quarter programme to regenerate c. 12 acres of prime real estate around the historic brewery campus. • Opening of New Mill student housing at Mill Street (400 bedroom). In total 2,500 next generation student housing rooms are proposed for the area (completed, under construction or in planning process). • Continued growth of client businesses in The Digital Hub and The GEC.

STREET RENEWAL: HIGH STREET, THOMAS STREET AND JAMES STREET The main commercial spine of The Liberties continues to see investment in its public realm and the improvement of buildings and businesses along the street. • Commencement of a major redesign of St Audoen’s Park including new entrances, improved connections between the park and adjoining churches, enhanced layout and planting. The first phase of this programme will be completed in March 2018. • Opening of the new Pearse Lyons Distillery at James Street - a major new visitor experience for The Liberties. The distillery development represents a €20m investment in Dublin 8 and includes conservation of the adjoining historic graveyard and an adjoining terrace providing a new café and bar. • Completion of work to 10-13 Cornmarket by HSE Estates. The redesign includes an active ground floor at Cornmarket. • Over €55,000 of investment in properties along the route under the Shopfront Improvement Scheme 2017. • Commencement of a new mixed use development at 61-62 Thomas Street, renewing a longstanding derelict site - for completion in 2018. Continued work at Nos 30, 32 - 36 Thomas Street to development new student housing and retail (the former Frawley’s site). The 257-bed Highlight Student Housing will open in September 2018. • Announcement by Diageo of €16m expansion of The Guinness Storehouse and €25 redevelopment of the former Guinness powerstation as a new distillery and visitor attraction for Roe & Co. Irish Whiskey. • Completion of €300,000 of public realm works to Crane Street, Sugar House Lane and School Street to widen footpaths and renew historic surfaces. • Completion of a €300,000 heritage lighting programme on Thomas Street and James Street, replacing 60 columns along the route. • Commencement of The Vaults - a new visitor attraction at John Street (opening in Spring 2018).

STREET RENEWAL: FRANCIS STREET AND MEATH STREET Francis Street’s Art & Antiques and the bustling market street of Meath Street form the distinctive heart of The Liberties. And there are big plans and improvements on the way. • Approval of a major public realm improvement plan for Francis Street that will provide wider pavements, new surfaces and landscaping, revised car parking layouts and improved junctions. The scheme will commence in phases beginning in 2018. • Announcement of a new 236-bedroom hotel development on The Coombe by Hodson Bay Group for Sheraton—expected to open at the end of 2018. • Planning permission lodged for a redevelopment of the Tivoli Theatre and adjoining car park as an aparthotel. • Continued investment in shopfronts and property along Francis Street and Meath Street with over €23,000 worth of investment made under the Shopfront Improvement Scheme 2017. Completion of a new residential/retail building at 98-99 Francis Street. • Work to provide more effective cleansing and street management services on the main commercial streets. • Repaving and playground area refurbishment at Vicar Street and Engine Alley. Upgrading of public lighting in the area to LED standard. • Completion of a major residential and retail scheme at Carman’s Hall.

STREET RENEWAL: NEWMARKET AND CORK STREET Historic Newmarket is undergoing extensive regeneration to create a new destination and vibrant urban quarter, while Cork Street is getting greener with two new parks. • Completion of Weaver Park - a major new community amenity at Cork Street and the first significant new park in The Liberties in over 100 years. The park includes a skater bowl, a uniquely-designed children’s play area, extensive planting, new walkways, seating and lighting. • Over 200,000 visitors welcomed to Teeling Distillery on Newmarket marking the resurgence of the historic marketplace. Market life remains vital and active on the square with plans to continue to develop and enhance the offer. • Approval of a major public realm plan for Newmarket including a central pedestrianised space for gatherings, events and markets, improved paving and landscaping, enhancements of the connecting streets around Newmarket and a new pedestrian entrance to the space from St Luke’s Avenue. • Planning permission lodged for a €200m redevelopment of 3 key sites around Newmarket including an hotel, apartments, office space, a market hall and a micro-brewery. • Opening of New Mill, a 400-bed student housing residence on Mill Street. Developed by GSA, its one of two new schemes by the company at this location. • Completion of a restoration and repurposing of former St Luke’s Church on St Luke’s Avenue. The restored building will comprise new offices. A public parklet is being created to the front of the building, while a more secluded graveyard garden will connect the building to Newmarket. • Continued construction of a new Aloft Hotel at Blackpitts, a major residential and office scheme at Fumbally Lane and a new whiskey distillery and visitor centre on Mill Street. • Restoration of No 10 Mill Street, an historic gabled house originally built by the Earls of Meath and now repurposed to modern office use.

CULTURAL LIFE, TOURISM & A DESIGN DISTRICT With a bumper year for visitors to the area, developing attractions, a packed calendar of high-profile events and festivals and an unmistakable buzz: The Liberties is the place to be. • The Liberties Festival continues to go from strength to strength. Now in its 42nd year, the Festival brings the streets of Dublin 8 alive in mid July. Highlights included Opera in the Open, Family Funfair in St Patrick’s Park. Liberties Photo Exhibition. • The origins of The Liberties uncovered! A major study, book and symposium was held in September to celebrate the Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr, the medieval abbey whose ‘liberty’ of lands gave us the modern neighbourhood of The Liberties. • A colourful medieval pageant by local school children added a colourful local flavour to the abbey commemorations. • A spectacular film night beneath the iconic St Patrick’s Tower at The Digital Hub was just one of many Culture Night highlights across the area. The Liberties also featured strongly in Open House Dublin in October, Dublin Gallery Weekend in November and other citywide festivals. • A Culture Date with Dublin 8: an inaugural locally-based culture extravaganza took place in May focused on major cultural institutions in the area. The ambition is to expand the Festival to other parts of The Liberties in 2018. • Over 1.6m people visited The Guinness Storehouse in 2016 making it the country’s leading visitor attraction. Indications are that 2017 will be even better. In all, visitor numbers to all the major attractions in the area were up, with an impressive 3m visitors across the 5 main sights in the area. • Over 1,000 new hotel rooms are currently under construction in The Liberties. 2018 will see the opening of the first three hotels to be located in this area of the city. • 2017 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift, the famous wit, satirist, writer and Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral. A major festival was held in November.

WHAT OUR BUSINESSES THINK: Bringing the local business community of The Liberties along on the process of revitalisation is an essential component to the area’s success. The Initiative canvasses the views of businesses with annual surveys. Our 2017 survey highlights: • Over 70% of respondents, when asked to register their confidence in the area as a location for their business, ranked The Liberties ‘7’ or above. In general, business confidence this year is consistent with the upswing registered in 2016. • 50% of respondents felt that business has improved in the past year, compared with 2016. • Quality of place and the cleanliness and attractiveness of streets are the top concerns for businesses. 66% of respondents felt that Dublin City Council could do more to maintain the area and enhance the street cleaning regime. • The Liberties Business Forum has actively lobbying the City Council in 2017 for improved cleaning and attention to dereliction and illegal dumping. This has led to more regular washing of streets, more regular sweeping, more bins and more personnel. 50% of respondents felt that cleaning had improved in the area in the past year. • Businesses ranked the individuality of the offer, and location and convenience as the two biggest attractions of the area to customers. 2017 saw new businesses establish in The Liberties; greater choice, particularly in the food offer; and a continued strengthening of the independent retail offer. • The Shopfront Improvement Scheme in The Liberties has encouraged a higher level of repair, refurbishment and enhancement of shopfronts and building facades in the area. 20 projects were assisted by this scheme in 2017 alone. Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they would considered improvements to and investment in their premises in 2018. • When asked what role The Liberties Business Forum should play in helping to shape the area, respondents suggested that branding and marketing The Liberties and lobbying for improved investment and further services and investment should be the key tasks of the area partnership.



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