More than 12,000 homes and commercial properties are vacant across Dublin, with 40 per cent empty for more than four years putting them at significant risk of dereliction, a new analysis of data by The Irish Times has revealed.
A quarter of vacant buildings in the capital are in the city centre, between the Royal and Grand canals, with the remainder in the suburbs and Co Dublin, databases supplied to The Irish Times by An Post and Tailte Éireann’s GeoDirectory show.
In advance of the imposition the Vacant Homes Tax next month, almost 5,000 or 41 per cent of vacant properties are houses or stand-alone apartments, another 1,500 are in mixed commercial and residential buildings, while just over 5,500 are commercial properties.
A street-level analysis of Dublin 1, 2, 7 and 8 postcodes – broadly the city area bordered by the canals – has for the first time allowed the mapping of individual vacant properties in the prime central area.
Of the 3,200 vacant properties in the centre almost 690 were houses or apartments, with 650, or one in five, unused properties in buildings with shops, offices or restaurants on the ground floor and flats or apartments above.
However, by far the largest number of empty properties in the central area are commercial, at almost 1,900 or close to 60 per cent. A detailed view of these addresses shows many are older properties in the Dublin 2 and Dublin 8 area, including large numbers of Victorian and Georgian buildings that may no longer be commercially viable, but could offer the potential for reuse as homes.
Mapping also indicated a glut of so-called “first-generation offices” built in 1960-1980 that are struggling to attract tenants due to their outdated layouts and poor energy efficiency.
The results also show considerable concentrations of empty mixed use or “living-over-the-shop” properties in Dublin 8 and along Capel Street and Dorset Street in the north inner city. Many of these properties have been vacant for several years and have become derelict or are sliding into dereliction.
Dublin City Council has already started to assess the potential of converting some of these buildings to homes through its Adaptive Reuse division, established last October, and is in the process of acquiring a number of vacant commercial buildings in the city centre.
GeoDirectory managing director Dara Keogh said residential vacancy rates in Dublin are low at 1 per cent, but commercial vacancies are growing and stand at 13.1 per cent in Dublin as a whole and 16.7 per cent in Dublin 2, and 17 per cent in Dublin 8.
The GeoDirectory data is collected from An Post on an ongoing basis, with the current data set collected in June 2022-June 2023, which means the status of some buildings may have since changed, Mr Keogh said.
It is also just one measure of vacancy, with the census also collating this data. However, the Central Statistics Office cautions the census “should not be used as a measure of long-term vacancy” as it is a “point in time indicator taken on census night as to whether the property was inhabited”.
Dr Cian O’Callaghan, associate professor of urban geography at Trinity College Dublin, said there was potential for an agency to establish a “more granular understanding of vacancy” including the different types of vacancy and the reasons behind it. “Instead of focusing on vacancy as a singular thing, ie non-use, you can then focus on the particular problematic types and I think that’s where an agency could come in and take some charge of that.”