Plans to demolish Apollo House and Hawkins House will transform area

Council-approved demolition paves the way for a rejuvenated ‘midtown’ in one of the shabbiest parts of Dublin city

 

Hawkins House and Apollo House, the two ugly sisters squatting on a prime city block between Trinity College and the Liffey for 50 years, are finally to face the wrecking ball.

Shortly before Christmas, Dublin City Council granted permission for the demolition of both buildings and their redevelopment as a new office complex at an estimated value of €50 million.

The council’s decision could still be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, but the council received very few objections to both applications.

Last July it asked both developers, the Office of Public Works which owns Hawkins House (headquarters of the Department of Health) and receiver Mazars, in control of Apollo House, to revisit their plans to address some concerns about the the height of both replacement buildings, the surrounding public space, and the impact of the development on the new Luas cross-city line.

The applicants responded last month paving the way for the grant of permission.

The scheme takes up almost an entire city block bounded by Poolbeg Street, Tara Street, Townsend Street and Hawkins Street. The two other significant buildings on the block, the nine-storey former An Post building at College House and the Screen Cinema which closed earlier this year, are also likely to be redeveloped in the near future, allowing for the creation of a new diagonal route from College Green to Tara Street.

Ugliest buildings

The George’s Quay local area plan, approved by the council in 2012 was drafted to govern the creation of a new “midtown” for the city south of the Liffey to Pearse Street, and from Hawkins Street to Lombard Street.

The council has long sought to establish a development template for the area, which despite being close to the heart of the city has a large percentage of vacant and underutilised sites and is characterised by poor-quality development and a need for economic, physical and social renewal.

Hawkins House was built in 1962 on the site of the former Theatre Royal. Apollo House was built in 1969 and until 2015 was leased to the Department of Social Protection.

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