DUBLIN, Feb xx (Reuters Life!) - It’s a dreary landscape most people just drive through on their way to the nearby Dublin Port.
But one entrepreneur has plans to make them stop by turning it into a bustling market to rival London’s Covent Garden.
Point Village Market, to be built on land lying idle after recession scuttled a scheme for a shopping center, will house stalls not under a graceful canopy, but in shipping containers surrounded by abandoned warehouses.
The property developer who has backing from the government-run Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) insists this makeshift approach won’t be “a million miles away from Covent Garden.”
It should eventually be converted into something more permanent once the property sector recovers enough.
“We’re trying to figure out how long will the bad times last, when will the good times roll,” Harry Crosbie said. “About two years we reckon.”
Crosbie said he had already signed up enough retailers to run 150 stalls in containers piled on top of each other, with well-known brands at the top and the “ground floors” given to local sellers and startups.
They won’t just be any old shipping containers, he said.
“They are going to be beautifully lit and have a sequencing light show,” Crosbie told public radio RTE.
According to the DDDA, Point Village will encourage “everything that the ‘Celtic Tiger’ forgot,” providing an outlet for those hardest hit by the downturn, from students to the unemployed, buskers, film makers, writers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
The DDDA has successfully developed other parts of the docklands, which now houses the International Financial Services Center, a banking hub, and will see a new 2,000-seat theater, owned by Crosbie, open next month.
Locals were also willing to give the Point Market the benefit of the doubt, with its planned 60-meter Ferris wheel which at half the size of the London Eye would be Ireland’s biggest.
“It may work,” said Stephen Gallagher, a 33-year-old accountant who lives in a nearby residential block that was completed before a decade-long construction boom ground to a halt, leaving half-finished developments all around the mouth of the River Liffey.
“It’s quite a good idea to try and bring life to this area,” Gallagher said before boarding the new tram line that Crosbie hopes will bring millions of visitors to the market.
The square already has a big attraction, the O2 concert arena, where performers have included Beyonce and Leonard Cohen since Crosbie and other investors completed a major revamp of the venue in 2008.
The market, which will be open 8 a.m. to 430 p.m. on weekends, won’t directly benefit from crowds gathering for the evening gigs, but Point Village will have its own lunchtime concerts.
“It’s ambitious ... but it’s working on a smaller scale in the villages and towns on the outskirts of Dublin,” Gallagher said.