As the third year of The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative draws to close, its a good time to look back and take stock of a year of achievement for the area, its businesses and the wider community.
2016 has been a turnaround year for The Liberties Dublin. There is a marked uplift in the area and many of the major projects, initiated over the past 3 years, are now bearing fruit. Across all streets in the area, renewal is noticeable.
This year we can look back on a major revamp of Thomas Street largely completed, with new paving, street lighting and greening. There have been public realm improvements too on High Street, Francis Street and Meath Street. And while the area said goodbye to a number of well-known businesses, many others have arrived and the area certainly feels busier and more dynamic.
West of The Liberties, there have been significant developments at St James’s Hospital: the new National Children’s Hospital received its planning permission and the initial construction phase commenced in the summer. The main hospital campus is also in the throes of an ambitious renewal programme.
The Binary Hub student housing on Bonham Street heralds the first of a number of such schemes to open in the area. a 400-bedroom residence called New Mill will open next summer at Newmarket, while the former Frawleys is now swathed in scaffold as a new student housing facility is built over the next 18 months. In fact, we end 2016 with 4 major sites along Cornmarket and Thomas Street; evidence of the pace of rejuvenation on the street.
Dublin City Council is now advancing a number of ambitious schemes for The Liberties. A new park will open on Cork Street in the summer, major public realm schemes are being advanced for Francis Street and Newmarket and a second park is proposed for Bridgefoot Street. The Council and Fáilte Ireland have been investing heavily in the Dubline – a visitor trail through the heart of the city. 2016 saw new interpretative panels, signage and app guides provided for the discovery trail. The investment comes in what has been a bumper year of visitors to Dublin: almost 5m, and many of these are visiting the attractions of Dublin 8.
The Initiative has also being communicating a positive message about The Liberties to the wider city. The Liberties Dublin website received over 40k hits in 2016 and the active social media channels now have almost 11,000 followers. The Liberties is regularly in the news and its usually for good reasons.
There is much to be proud of at the end of this year. You can read about the achievements of Dublin City Council and the many businesses and partners in the area in the End of Year Report and learn about the ambitious plans to continue the improvements in 2017.