Dublin City Council has unveiled plans for a new €2.6 billion cultural and commercial quarter based around the Liberties and the Coombe in the south inner city. The redevelopment scheme, to which some €2 billion in private funds have already been committed, is to be known as SoHo. Tim O'Brien reports.
The SoHo plan is aimed at consolidating the more traditional Liberties community with about 25,000 new residents, in "family-friendly" accommodation with up to 8,000 new jobs. SoHo was inspired by the rejuvenated industrial and residential area "South of Houston Street" in New York City.
In Dublin, SoHo will attempt to recreate a similar quarter and will refer to an area "South of Heuston Station". Unlike Dublin's Temple Bar regeneration which evolved a reputation for nightlife, the SoHo plan is to concentrate on family-centred accommodation, schools and public parks with a mix of employment opportunities, from construction of the new buildings to creative opportunities in the Digital Hub and other technologically driven services.
Included in its boundaries are a diverse range of employers from older industries like the Guinness Brewery, St James's and the Coombe hospitals, to more creative services such as de Blacam and Meagher Architects and a new regional laboratory for water services.
The rejuvenation of Cook Street, Thomas Street, Bridgefoot Street and School Street has already begun through public and private investment in housing and commercial development. The development of the new Eircom headquarters at Heuston Station is already under way.
The programme also includes the restoration of St Catherine's church, new parks and community spaces at Cork Street and the rear of St Catherine's, a new community centre at Donore Avenue and a new civic urban space at Cornmarket.
Some of the larger public redevelopment projects will be at the Coombe and St James's hospitals and at FatimaMansions. Significantly the master plan demands both public and private residential units be of a larger scale than has been seen in much of Dublin's apartment boom of the last decade.
Typically units will have in excess of 80sq m, providing significantly more spacious apartments suitable for parents with children. City manager John Fitzgerald said 350,000 people had come to live in Dublin. The council was "determined to achieve high quality family and job friendly development in this area".
Mr Fitzgerald said €2 billion was committed from the private sector, while the city council would put forward €100 million to fund publicprivate partnerships which would in turn raise a further €500 million.