Dublin City Council South Central Area’s innovative Shopfront Improvement Scheme supported over 30 projects in 2020 – its most successful year yet. The scheme, which has operated since 2015, assists shops and premises across the south west inner city area (The Liberties, Rialto, Dolphin’s Barn, Kilmainham and Inchicore) with small grants to encourage the improvement of business frontages and the conservation of heritage feature such as traditional sash windows, etc.
Among the 31 projects supported this year was the renewal of windows at the charming Parochial Hall on James Street, a conservation-led refurbishment of 1 Dean Street, stylish upgrades for two of Francis Street’s best-known antiques shops, smart new office spaces and shops on Meath Street, the handsome stained glass windows of one of the area’s landmark churches – St Catherine’s, as well as repainting of a number of Thomas Street’s pubs and restaurants.
In Rialto the scheme supported a newly opened cafe – Bridge Cafe – as well as two public houses, while the Dolphin House in nearby Dolphin’s Barn has its front repainted.
Among the projects in Inchicore was the new Frontline Make Change premises on Emmet Road as well as Stillgarden Distillery and the adjoining Rascal’s Brewery.
In all this year, the scheme spurred over a quarter of a million euros of investment in commercial and community premises in the area with grants ranging from €400 – €3,000. In May, the deadline and funding for the scheme was extended to assist small business then reopening after lockdown and trading in what has been the most challenging year for so many.
In The Liberties in particular, the Shopfront Improvement Scheme has encouraged the return to traditional materials such as timber shopfronts and sash windows, painted detail signage and the care and retention of heritage features in what is an important conservation area. Overall the scheme supports the continued renewal and upgrading of shops and premises across the south west city to create more attractive streets and shopping areas.