Empty Rooms

In Dublin they have something that I have never seen in another capital city: derelict buildings in the middle of town.

In a city where property prices are going ape-shit insane, how can there be buildings quite literally smack in the centre of the city that are boarded up and empty? It boggles the mind.

In Stockholm, and probably most other cities these places would be snapped up and either tastily renovated or else levelled to make make way for nasty modern apartments. Can there really be an economic advantage to having prime property not in use?

And, at the same time, there is a building boom in Ireland. You cannot get hold of a builder these days unless you promise him a wad of cash and a blow-job, while 220,000 houses and apartments in the country lie vacant. The whole thing stinks of cash in unmarked brown envelopes.

It was this way in Dublin when I lived there in the early 90s, but I thought with all the cash floating about these days, it would have changed. But no.

This situation has also caught the attention of a few bloggers, one of whom is making a little photo collection of derelict buildings in Dublin. Worth a look. And a ponder.

/ paddy

17 thoughts on “Empty Rooms

  1. We have this in Toronto, and the answer is quite simple, property developers are prospecting on the land and waiting to build ginormous condo towers on the property. The cost / hassle of renting it out in the meantime isn’t worth their time.

    Perhaps in Dublin the reason is different.

  2. In the end of September our Medical Center leave Sweden for a short five day conference trip to Dublin. The schedule is filled but I really hope there will be time for some sightseeing. I have never been in Ireland before, shame on me. Have an Irish Terrier in my house though.
    I will specially look for empty houses.

  3. Irish property developers are especially greedy and lacking in imagination. There is only one model that they follow for ‘development’, which is knock down handsome old buildings and replace with concrete boxes filled with either apartments or offices, depending on which has the most tax relief. The designs for these come from second hand German manuals bought at the Munich book fair, because Irish architects are especially greedy, unimaginative and lazy. I suspect that the unused buildings are actually protected by law, since they are old heritage, but the owners are waiting for them to become so unstable from neglect that the case can be made that they are beyond repair and so officially knockable. The idea of restoring them to use as they are is alright for you tofu-eating sandal-wearers, but nothing a serious player would consider.

  4. paddyK: “In Dublin they have something that I have never seen in another capital city: derelict buildings in the middle of town.”

    Hell, come to Winnipeg. You’ll be at home here. We can’t even give those rat-infested buildings away, quite frankly.

  5. That swedish schlager song has made it impossible for me to read “empty room” without thinking of it.
    And empty houses are fascinating. Love it.

  6. Hmm… Glen? Do we get the rats for free? Winnipeg is not at all that far north. If we really, really get those rats for free I might perhaps be interested in a deal. :)

  7. Everybody: Don’t you just hate mass replies..? But thanks for the info – it seems that Dublin is not alone in this problem.

  8. I’m blogging this too. It kinda goes with my Architorture series (of which I’ve only done one so far but more will come; did you see the Borg Cube that is the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design?) Developers, corruption, and Fianna Fáil go hand in glove.

  9. The keyword is ‘Ireland’. Like all the empty houses in the countryside, the owner is holding out for an offer higher than the asking price.

    I’m looking forward to a big price collapse to wipe the smile off their smug faces.

  10. Riga and Tallinn are similar: you’ll see gorgeously renovated Art Nouveau buildings side by side with crumbling ruins. The reason there, I’ve been told, is that after the end of Communism property ownership is often uncertain, and nobody wants to invest in renovation unless they can be sure they actually own the property in question.

  11. European Paddy, what’s your take on the Lisbon Treaty a.k.a the new EU Constitution and what do you make of the Irish being the ONLY people who get to vote on it???

  12. OR Melling: Borg cubes are cool. Ok?
    James Butler: Oh you do like a nice collapse, don’t you?
    Martin: Must go – always wanted to see Tallin.

    OR Melling: I have no idea what it even means. I just hope the Irish voters understand and don’t just vote in the way they think they should.

  13. Lisbon – not sure anyone understands – most of the main campaigners for a Yes vote have admitted to not reading it – including the new Taoiseach Brian Cowen. EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said anyone who wanted to spend time reading it was crazy – yet they should still vote yes!

    Its going to be a close run thing. I’m voting No until I can find a reason to vote Yes apart from ‘you should!’

  14. Is it just a coincidence, Paddy, that you speak of Borg Cubes and the new EU constitution a.k.a. the Lisbon Treaty in the same breath? Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Your Irish uniqueness will be added to Our Own. I’m voting NO on behalf of my fellow Europeans who have been rendered voiceless. Can’t help but laugh, though, that the fate of something conjured up by po-faced undemocratic technocrats who have insured that their peoples have no say is being decided by the fanciful anarchic ever ready for a bit of a rebellion Irish. I call that hubris. And the results will be announced on Friday the 13th. Hoo hoo.

  15. Stu: “No” is always a good default.

    OR Melling: Yes the Irish do like to cause trouble. As long as their property prices aren’t affected.

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