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Council seeks operator to create 'tourist attraction' at Dublin's Fruit & Vegetable Market

The market off Capel Street closed in August after 130 years.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is seeking an operator to create a “tourist attraction” and “retail food” space for Dublin 7′s Fruit & Vegetable market. 

In August, TheJournal.ie reported that the Victorian market off Capel Street will close for refurbishment, 16 years after its redevelopment was first planned. 

The council reached a compensation agreement with the remaining traders, understood to be in the region of €5 million.

The council – which owns the building – has now said it is looking for a market operator to redevelop and refurbish the Victorian structure and turn it into a retail food market. 

This operator  “will have the design and management know how to deliver this flagship project and will have the capability and expertise to develop and manage the Market for a number of years,” a council spokesperson said. 

The council plans to contract a “single-source” operator who will be responsible for restoring the market building, fitting it out and operating the space.

The markets “will become a natural hub for quality food and local produce” and “will become a tourist attraction in its own right demonstrating traditional Irish food skills and production methods,” the spokesperson said. 

Capture Artist's impression of refurbished market interior. Source: Dublin City Council

‘Private Entity’

The council was granted planning permission for the refurbishment of the building on Mary’s Lane in Dublin 7 in 2015. In recent years, the council has pressed ahead with plans for the historic market, which is located between Capel Street and the Four Courts.

Social Democrat councillor Gary Gannon has, however, criticised DCC’s plans, arguing the council “should have the confidence and ambition to manage its own municipal market.”

“What a lost opportunity it would be for food producers not only in Dublin, but throughout the country, if they are excluded from the capital’s market because fast food operators are a safer bet in terms of capacity to pay higher rents that come when a commercial operator is giving the lease and responsibility to manage our cities much-longed for market,” Gannon told TheJournal.ie

Gannon says the council should link in with other local authorities and food producers around Ireland and says that other European local authorities manage their own markets. 

“DCC have done such immense work bringing the market to this point, let’s not relinquish control of the market to a private entity who would understandably make considerations that were profit focused first,” Gannon said. 

Last year, Dublin City Council assistant chief executive Richard Shakespeare told a meeting of city councillors: “People talk about the English Market in Cork, but we want a market with a quintessential Dublin feel. Something with a little bit of the magic dust of Dublin”. 

Shakespeare said at the time that works on the building are expected to take around 18 months and that redevelopment could cost €3 million.  

The council said it will “publish a Contract Notice requesting expressions of interest in due course”.

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