Liberties to receive €25m makeover on Francis Street

Regeneration plan will include aparthotel, restaurant and performance arts venue

An Bord Pleanála has given its approval to a major urban regeneration project on Francis Street in the heart of Dublin's Liberties. The scheme, designed by Douglas Wallace Architects, will include a 260-bedroom aparthotel, restaurant units, a gymnasium, shop and a cultural theatre and performance arts venue.

The €25 million project will be promoted by Anthony Byrne, founder of the Tivoli Theatre. It will have an overall floor area of 10,000sq m (107,638sq ft). The design will be centred on a new civic square to be known as "Tivoli Square", named after the existing theatre, which will be rebuilt as a modern performance and arts facility.

The new Tivoli will act as a catalyst for a number of new cultural activities. It is designed with an integral stage area that will allow for outdoor theatrical and cinematic performances similar to Meeting House Square in Temple Bar.

The aparthotel will be expected to provide a boost to tourism in the area, which is located on the emerging east-west tourist axis stretching from the Guinness Storehouse to Trinity College. The Bord Pleanála decision is expected to mark an important benchmark in the regeneration of Francis Street.

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The promoters say the architecture of the scheme has been tailored to respect the unique character of the street, and will include the retention of the 19th-century brick facade at Nos 140-143.

Hugh Wallace, a director of Douglas Wallace, said there was a “simplicity and elegance to the architectural expression” that reflected theVictorian heritage of the area in terms of “rhythm, proportion, use of materials and, most importantly, the civic-minded approach to design”.

Damian Meehan of Douglas Wallace said their approach had centred on the creation of a new urban hub that would anchor the development and also act as a catalyst for change on Frances Street, “a forgotten gem in the historic heart of Dublin”.