Andrew’s Lane Theatre facing the final curtain?

The rundown Andrew’s Lane Theatre on a back lane between Exchequer Street and Trinity Street in Dublin’s south inner city could well form the first phase of a substantial redevelopment site when it goes for sale today through agents CBRE.

The theatre is directly across a lane from a site of over half an acre owned by Eir which is mainly used as a surface car park and is likely to be sold as the telecoms company moves to tidy up its property portfolio.

The large site as well as the theatre – divided by a narrow lane used mainly as an access to a multistorey car park – have considerable potential for both retail and office use because of their primary location just off Trinity Street.

In addition, on the other side of the theatre at 13 Trinity Street and extending around into Andrew’s Lane, Nigel Kingston of Lambert Smith Hampton is quoting €4.2 million for a vacant and unlisted corner building with undoubted redevelopment potential which could be of interest to anyone considering bidding for the theatre.

This area has a heavy concentration of bars, restaurants and coffee shops and is now one of the most popular parts of the city for entertaining. The top-class dining and restaurant business Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street, which originally housed an Eircom telephone exchange, backs on to the main site.

The theatre has a ground floor area of 603.59sq m (6,497sq ft) and a mixed-use zoning which would probably allow retail use at ground floor level and up to five storeys of overhead offices or apartments. The theatre was originally divided in two, housing a printing works and a clothing company. It was bought by stockbroker Hugh O’Donnell and converted into two performance venues, the main theatre with 220 seats, and a more intimate studio upstairs which could accommodate 72.

The zoning on the Eircom site permits a range of uses but the principal aim is to promote dynamic uses at ground level that could enliven street activity and contribute to the urban streetscape and street culture.

Peter Garrigan of CBRE is seeking offers in excess of €3.1 million for the theatre – a long way from the €9.25 million paid by an investment consortium in May 2007, as the property market headed for a crash.

Although property values have recovered considerably in the past two years or so, the likely selling price being quoted for the theatre is another sign that even in the city centre values have not yet returned to pre-crash levels.

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan is the former commercial-property editor of The Irish Times