Build-to-rent tower planned on top of Arnotts car park

12-storey apartment block would be located just off O’Connell Street near GPO

A 12-storey build-to-rent apartment scheme, including five floors of apartments on top of the Arnotts car park, is being planned for the heart of Dublin city.

Developer Noel Smyth’s Fitzwilliam Real Estate is seeking permission from Dublin City Council for almost 160 apartments on the site which backs on to Arnotts department store on Henry Street.

The scheme is the first major residential application made directly to the council since the Government decision to phase out the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) system for large-scale housing projects.

Three years ago, Mr Smyth secured permission for a nine-storey hotel on the site, but is now seeking a rental-only apartment development that would be three storeys taller.


Over the shop

In a radical twist to the concept of “living over the shop” the top three open-air levels of the existing car park would be removed and replaced with five storeys of apartments. Another two-storey block would be located on the roof of the department store itself, with a 12-storey element facing William’s Lane, a narrow path off Middle Abbey Street beside Independent House, the former headquarters of Independent Newspapers.

The bulk of the development involves buildings on Middle Abbey Street, but includes buildings on Prince’s Street North, just off O’Connell Street, at the side of the GPO.

The build-to-rent scheme of 60 studios, 85 one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom apartments would include a number of “communal residential amenities” including co-working spaces, exercise studios, a communal lounge, and a “dog-washing room”.

Parking spaces

The development would result in the loss of 145 parking spaces, with 225 remaining. The application also seeks to extend the operation of the multistorey car park to 24 hours a day, from the current 7am-9pm limits.

Mr Smyth is the first developer not to use the SHD process for a large-scale build-to-rent scheme since the system was introduced four years ago. Under the system, applications for more than 100 homes or blocks of 200 student bed spaces were made directly to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the local authority planning stage.

The system, which removed the right to appeal planning decisions resulting in a significant increase in legal actions against the board, is to be discontinued in February. Final SHD preplanning applications had to be submitted by December 17th.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times