Chapters bookshop looks to move within city centre with gym plans for existing premises

Planning application seeks change of use for Parnell Street premises deemed too large for book retail

Chapters bookshop in Dublin, the largest independent bookstore in Ireland, will relocate to a “smaller location” in the city centre, while the current location may be turned into a gym, documents show.

A planning application to Dublin City Council is seeking permission for a change of use of the premises of Chapters bookshop on Parnell Street in the city centre from retail to gym facility.

Chapters, which has been in business for some 40 years, briefly closed its doors on January 31st this year after its founder Willie Kinsella retired.

The shop was then reopened under new ownership and management by Kevin Neary and Michael Finucane, co-founders and former directors of GameStop Ireland.


It has been in its current location on Parnell Street since 2006. However, it previously occupied a smaller premises.

The planning application, lodged by applicant O’Mahony Pike Architects on behalf of JOM Investments Unlimited Company, a firm linked to the Cosgrave family of builders, stated that Chapters had “realised the store was much larger than required” by 2007, which was “compounded when the recession hit in 2008/2009″.

Smaller location

This had been made more difficult again in recent years “with the advent and ongoing popularity of the ebook market… Naturally, all of this impacted greatly on the rent that Chapters were able to afford,” the application stated.

The new owners are “keen to provide an online presence” and have already secured another, smaller location in the city centre which would allow it to “continue to trade in the city centre on a much more sustainable basis, ensuring its future”.

The applicants were responding to concerns raised by the planning authority at the potential loss of an established bookshop in the city centre.

Chapters relocating would leave the unit as “a significant vacant frontage on the north side of Parnell Street”.

“As a result of the size of the unit, there are no likely retail tenants or operators interested in the subject property, except for a potential gym operator, which the landlord is now looking to facilitate,” the application said.

The proposed development on the 3,090sq m premises would comprise a gymnasium facility including the ground floor and mezzanine floor areas.

A new gym facility would “facilitate the continued vibrancy of the street and further create a mixed-use environment providing choice to the working, visiting and resident population”, it said.

Chapters did not respond to a request for comment.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times