Two Dublin city-centre car parks could be repurposed for housing, cultural venues or “urban farming” under a proposal to reassess the use of commercial buildings owned by Dublin City Council.
The Dawson Street car park on the southside of the city and the Ilac car park on the northside are both owned by the council, but are leased to operator Park Rite.
Councillors will on Monday be asked to approve a new five-year lease with Park Rite for both multistorey blocks with the council securing an estimated €1.85 million a year in rent for the 360-space Dawson Street car park and €1.78 million a year for the 1,000-space facility at the Ilac centre.
However, Green Party councillor Donna Cooney will propose councillors do not approve the new leases pending an assessment of alternative uses for the two facilities. “My view is we shouldn’t go ahead until at least consulting with the traffic department, the housing department, and looking at our climate action plan and our city development plan,” Ms Cooney said.
The council last October set up an “adaptive reuse” programme to convert vacant commercial buildings in the city to homes. More than 12,000 homes and commercial properties are vacant across Dublin, a new analysis of data by The Irish Times revealed recently.
The adaptive reuse unit has a remit to buy private commercial properties for housing, but also to convert council-owned buildings to housing.
“We are looking to purchase buildings and there is funding for that, but we should start with our own sites. These buildings are both in excellent city-centre locations and would fit in with having a ‘15-minute city’, so to me, housing would make sense. It may be ruled out as unsuitable, but we should examine it first before entering into another five-year lease for car parking,” Ms Cooney said.
If the buildings were not suitable for housing, they could be suitable for urban farming. “Car parks in Paris have been repurposed to include urban farming, and the basements where there isn’t any light are ideal for mushroom growing,” she said.
“Urban farming is becoming quite a thing in terms of our climate resilience and food security, and it makes sense to be looking at spaces where you can grow food that’s highly nutritious, on our doorstep, that could go straight into the markets and restaurants.”
The facilities could also be considered for cultural spaces or “roller discos”, she said.
Labour’s Cllr Declan Meenagh has also suggested cultural uses for the car parks, and has asked for the possibility of hosting evening events to be examined. Cat O’Driscoll of the Social Democrats and the Green Party’s Janet Horner have suggested space in these car parks should be allocated to bike parking.
Park Rite said it had no comment to make.