For centuries, many merchants in Irish cities lived above their businesses. Travelling on the upper deck of buses in Dublin city today, the number of vacant spaces above retail units is striking – Camden Street being a prime example.
Dublin City Council planner John O'Hara has suggested the number of vacant units could be as high as 4,000, which seems extraordinary considering the lack of accommodation in the capital.
Boramar, a landmark more commonly known as Ferris Wheels bike shop at 110 Rock Road in Booterstown is a fine example of the wonderful living space that can be achieved in a period property with a retail unit attached.
Why this particular commercial/residential marriage works so well, apart from the property having lovely views and period details, is that it has two entrances, and critically, a good working relationship between landlord and tenant. (The absence of independent entrances and the related security and fire safety issues have been a major barrier to the success of incentive schemes to revive such properties including Living Over the Shop, and the latest incarnation, the Living City initiative.
Purchased 30 years ago by Mary Collins Walsh, this property has always had a retail unit below – it was once a butchers in its heyday. Latterly the retail unit is rented to Ferris Wheels bike shop, which remain today, and the rest of the property was leased as offices. The property sits on a prominent corner opposite the Dart station in Booterstown.
Based in Dingle with her artist husband Hugh Collins Walsh [they took each other's names after marriage] they planned to return to Dublin in 2014 and set about converting the offices to accommodation.
“We inverted the kitchen and living space to take advantage of the views across to Blackrock Park and Dublin Bay – initially the dining room was at ground level but we turned this into a guest bedroom,” says Collins Walsh.
The result is simply a wonderful use of the 120sq m (1,292sq ft) of space – there is a further 55sq m (592sq ft) in the retail unit – Ferris Wheels, the tenants, remain unaffected by the sale, with five-year rent reviews as standard.
The accommodation side of the property has an internal porch, which gives sound privacy from the busy Rock Road, with all but the guest bedroom located upstairs.
The kitchen by the Victorian Kitchen Company is superb and in keeping with the heritage of the house, which dates to 1880.
A drawing room is opposite with a flush inset wood-burning stove, and two further bedrooms are at this level.
The Collins Walsh's are returning to Kerry as "their hearts are still there" and have placed their house and income-generating retail unit, on the market through Sherry FitzGerald with an asking price of €595,000.