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a new o'connell street

What's going to happen to the Clerys building?

All 460 workers were let go last Friday.

SINCE ITS SHOCK closure on Friday, there has been much speculation about what is to come of the iconic Clerys building on O’Connell Street in Dublin city centre.

Damian O’Reilly, a lecturer in retail management at DIT, said he believes the building will be turned into a shopping mall.

He told Today with Séan O’Rourke the writing was on the wall for Clerys for some time, with company losing €4.3 million from August 2012 to January 2015.

“To me, Clerys as a department store was no more for many years. I know it was still existing but it had been losing significant amounts of money for many, many years … Basically the brand had become tired. It’s a very iconic name. It’s a very iconic brand, but I’m afraid it got tired.”

O’Reilly said a new mall could create 1,000-1,200 jobs.

“They will have frontage on O’Connell Street, they will have frontage on Marlborough Street and I suggest what they’ll do is they’ll create a mall, where they’ll bring companies – the likes of Hollister, who is in Dundrum but doesn’t have a presence on the north side.

So something that is a destination store. Something that will attract customers and will attract footfall to the area because unfortunately … sales were declining in Clerys and Clerys as a brand itself wasn’t really performing as a department store.

“Now if they put in maybe 20 or 30 of those stores in a mall that will create employment there.”

Clerys department store on O’Connell Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

O’Reilly noted there has also been speculation about the possibility of first-floor offices and a leisure or hotel facility on top of that.

‘Very unfortunate’

Last week, workers were told that all of their jobs were lost. Provisional liquidators were appointed to the company that operated the store following a High Court hearing after the group was sold to Natrium Ltd earlier in the day.

The company employs 130 people and a further 330 or people are employed by the 50 concession holders, who sold their wares in the department store.

O’Reilly said the way employees were treated was “very unfortunate”.

He added that, due to the length it takes to submit and approve planning applications, “The store will definitely be closed for the whole of 2016.”

Ciarán Cuffe, an architect and Green party councillor for the North Inner City, said the “ideal solution” would be shops on all floors but said he was open to offices or residential apartments on the upper floors.

I would love to see a viable use of the building. The last thing I want is to see it empty. There are a lot of unanswered questions as to whether the business is viable or whether it’s just a property play and I look forward to getting answer to that.

“It’s an important building for the nation’s capital street. I want to see shopping at least on the groundfloor … the ideal solution would be on all floors.”

Moore Street

Cuffe admitted there are “concerns about having too much retail [outlets]” in the area, noting that Chartered Land has permission to build another shopping centre on nearby Moore Street.

In March it was announced that the government was going acquire the National Monument site located at 14-17 Moore Street for about €4 million. The area is being redeveloped ahead of the 1916 Rising centenary.

There is already approval in place under the National Monuments Act for restoration and the opening of a proposed commemorative centre.

Fianna Fáil wants the area to be declared a ‘historical quarter’ and redeveloped in a similar fashion to how Temple Bar was more than two decades ago.

File Photo The Government has said it is to acquire the national monument site at 14-17 Moore Street. Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Cuffe noted that the city has “a bright future” if the right balance is struck between shops and offices.

A lot of works are going to take place on O’Connell Street over the next two and a half years when the Luas project enters its heavy constructive phase. After that there will be much higher potential footfall – it’s a golden opportunity to regenerate O’Connell Street.

Cuffe said he was “saddened” to hear of the store’s closure, noting: “I was in there less than six months ago buying a mattress, trying to do my bit to keep it going.”

Watch: Locks changed in Clerys as shocked workers told all the jobs are gone

Read: Clerys worker put down €600 deposit for furniture – hours before store’s shock closure

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