Development takes Moore Street site from baking dough to making dough

Success of the Paris Bakery is an example of entrepreneurial spirit bringing life back to urban areas

Paris Bakery in Dublin to close with the loss of 70 jobs

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 12:00

A cake shop here, a vintage clothes store there, a hairdresser’s over there, yet another restaurant around the corner, a new cafe yonder – the multiplication of independent businesses across the capital and the country is impossible to ignore and it’s brilliant. But where’s their support? And what’s going to make them sustainable?

The success of the Paris Bakery on Moore Street in Dublin is an example of an entrepreneurial spirit that brings life back to urban areas. In November 2010, it started out with four employees. Now it has 70. But not so fast, hard-working, employment-creating, quality produce-making folk. Because what the Paris Bakery forgot in its desire to build something from the bottom up and succeed are the numbskull environmental factors that call a halt to such endeavours.

Last week, the bakery’s owners announced that their building is to be demolished and they can’t afford to relocate. Bye-bye, 70 jobs. So long, quality produce. In the bakery’s place will be a €900 million shopping centre and a wee monument to the 1916 Rising over 14 to 17 Moore Street. The bakery is based in numbers 18 and 19.

The Henry Street area is tripping over itself with large department stores and shopping centres, so I’ve no idea what they’re going to put in this one and who’s going to shop there, especially when generic high-street retail is struggling.


Independent businesses
Many post-boom independent businesses have benefited from cheaper and more short-term leases, not having to sign up to the crippling 20-year leases that decapitated many businesses when the crash came. But with the property market in the capital ascending again, there will be more businesses in the Paris Bakery’s situation – successful businesses told to take a hike because there’s more money on the table from someone else. In case that sounds vaguely familiar, yes, that’s greed.

Moore Street has eastern European, Asian and African food shops, including one of the best in the city, Star Asia. There are African hair salons and barbers. There’s Brazilian, Caribbean, Malaysian and Turkish food. There are mobile phone shops, some run by young Chinese men and women. There’s a great Polish bookshop and there are money exchanges. The fruit and vegetable stalls, which make up the oldest food market in Dublin, remain, with added stalls from our immigrant community. There’s a halal butcher beside FX Buckley’s.

Like Parnell Street, where no one who didn’t live in the area bothered going near for years until it was populated by Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants, Moore Street isn’t about “old Dublin”. It’s about real Dublin.

I wonder if these businesses are going to be accommodated in the grand plans for Moore Street Nua? Moore Street isn’t glamorous. So what. But its development shouldn’t just be about the cultural preservation of 1916. This is about the cultural preservation of now. An area that left an indelible stamp on Irish identity is now home to a panoply of retail for imm- igrant communities. Isn’t that amazing?

The terrace of houses on Moore Street where Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett and Thomas Clarke surrendered has fallen into disrepair. Now, with 2016 on the horizon, the original developer and one of the so-called “Maple 10”, Joe O’Reilly – for whom the council pressed pause on preserving history awaiting his retail development – has popped up again.


Reckless move
Why should we listen to what Dublin City Council and developers want to do? In 1998 the council planned to demolish the terrace, which would have been yet ano- ther reckless move in destroying part of our history. The fools, the fools, the fools!

I’m all for preserving the historical buildings on Moore Street. It’s long overdue. Chartered Land, which is developing the site, is O’Reilly’s company. The creation of a “monument site” on Moore Street is Nama’s prerogative now, but only numbers 14 to 17 fall under that “remit”. Numbers 18 and 19 (post-1916 structures) can go to hell, as far as the planners are concerned, and their demolition has already been approved by Dublin City Council and an Bord Pleanála.

We’ve gone from demolishing the entire terrace to demolishing the ones deemed of no relevance. Do we not care about our city landscape at all? I’m reminded of Connolly’s writings in the Irish Worker newspaper, less than a year before he surrendered on Moore Street: “Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.”

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