The arrival of world-leading hotel brand and a Michelin-starred restaurant last week demonstrate how far the transformation of The Liberties has come in the past few years. With its commercial streets renewed and revitalised by new developments, the restoration of heritage buildings, new businesses and increased footfall, and new parks, amenities and greener streets enhancing life for the local community, The Liberties has made a dramatic turnaround in recent years.
Last week, chef Keelan Higgs and the team at Variety Jones restaurant, which opened at the start of 2019 at 78 Thomas Street, received a coveted Michelin star rating. The packed little bistro is one of a growing number of high quality places to eat on Thomas Street and surrounds, in an area that for many years had few places to sit and enjoy a meal after 5pm.
On The Coombe meanwhile, international brand Hyatt Centric opened it first Irish hotel – Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin – not only bringing a world leader to Dublin 8, but also bringing ‘The Liberties’ name to an international audience. The 234-bedroom hotel includes conference and meeting rooms, a fitness centre, the stylish new The Liberties Gate bar and restaurant and a beautiful courtyard called Poddle Garden.
Among the hotel’s local touches are art works by the renowned Vivienne Roche (who created the wonderful ‘Sentinel’ sculptures at the entrance to St Patrick’s Park); and engaging video histories of The Liberties with local historians from The Liberties Cultural Association, as well as future plans to exhibit some of the fascinating archaeology found on the site during construction.
Further additions to Thomas Street are set for the coming months. John’s Bar & Haberdashery will see entertainment company Pressup Group make its first foray into the area when the themed pub opens for business as part of a new office development at 61 Thomas Street at the end of 2019. The ever-popular Vicar Street Venue is set for an overhaul with plans to develop a new 185-bedroom hotel to the rear. And The Masonry – Iconic Offices new co-working and shared office space at 151 Thomas Street – will shortly unveil the second phase of its conversion of the former IAWS, adding to the premium, serviced office space available on the street. Even established players in the area are expanding: award winning The GEC will embark on a major refurbishment of its Taylor’s Lane hub in the new year. The GEC is set to double its floorspace and substantially grow the number of start-ups, micro enterprises, social enterprises and small businesses based on site.
Meanwhile the area is increasingly attractive to small businesses and independent retailers which is in turn spurring renewal of properties on Meath Street and Cork Street. A report in The Sunday Business Post (Sunday 13th October) details the findings of a recent commercial premises vacancy survey of Dublin which highlights the high level of occupancy and the overall attractiveness of Dublin 8 as part of the city’s retail and small business offer. The piece also includes some further insights into some of the larger developments stacking up in the area.
“Dublin 8 picks up pace as new developments come on stream” Donal Buckley