Dublin City Council has already bought the building at 119 Emmet Road, a two-storey red-brick that until late last year housed the Clean-Well Washeteria laundrette.

It also snapped up 133 Emmet Road at the other end of the terrace, said a council spokesperson.

Now, the council is negotiating with owners of properties in between, the spokesperson said.

“The Council will try to purchase the properties required by agreement, but if this is not possible, it will advance a Compulsory Purchase Order,” said the spokesperson.

Behind the council’s interest in the strip on this Inchicore thoroughfare is an ambitious plan to grow the football stadium behind, the home ground of St Patrick’s Athletic FC.

Last summer, councillors were given a private briefing on the plans, they say, and expect a public presentation in the coming months.

Three local councillors said they support the proposal to expand the capacity of the stadium, Richmond Park.

“League of Ireland is buzzing at the moment,” says Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon. The stadium needs an upgrade and the redevelopment should be a boost to the area, he says.

“Now is the time to do it,” says Labour Councillor Darragh Moriarty. “Attendance at games is skyrocketing.”

Said Sinn Féin Councillor Máire Devine: “It’s a good plan, it will be great for Inchicore.”

St Patrick’s Athletic FC didn’t respond to a query asking for more information about the club’s expansion.

A new idea

In April 2018, Dublin City Council had yet to settle on what it would build on its nearby lands at St Michael’s Estate – across Emmet Road from the stadium.

St Patrick’s Athletic put forward its own idea. The club proposed to build a new stadium and shopping centre.

Instead, the council decided to develop the St Michael’s Estate land itself. It applied for planning permission last year for 578 new homes together with a community hub, a creche, a library, a supermarket, five retail spaces, two cafés and a plaza.

An Bord Pleanála has not yet decided on that planning permission application.

But the vision for a new stadium in Inchicore hasn’t gone away. Councillors say that in a private briefing last summer, St Patrick’s Athletic explained a new proposal to redevelop their stadium where it is now.

They said that the new plan should be made public soon, probably at the September meeting of local area councillors, where it will be available to view on the council’s webcast.

Richmond Park, home to St Patrick’s Athletic FC. Credit: Laoise Neylon

“It’s an exciting and more realistic plan,” says Devine, the Sinn Féin councillor.

As well as extending the stadium up to Emmet Road, the club also plans to build a walkway on the other side over the Camac River, she said. That would link through to Inchicore Road and allow access to the War Memorial Gardens.

Pidgeon, the Green Party councillor, says that there are rumours going around locally. But the current plan doesn’t include a shopping centre, he says.

He says he thinks it is important that St Pat’s stays within its community. “It’s a really great club. We don’t want the club to be forced out of the area.”

In London, some football clubs from central parts of the city have been moved to other areas, he says. That hasn’t been good for morale or supporters.

Says Moriarty: “I think it’s going to be a good news story. The League of Ireland at grassroots level is in need of massive investment.”

The facilities in some League of Ireland stadiums are poor and often the toilets are portacabins, he says.

Bohemian FC is set to benefit from major public investment in a new Dalymount Stadium in Phibsboro and it seems fair that the council would balance that investment on the southside, says Moriarty.

The redevelopment will boost Kilmainham and Inchicore and also benefit fans of St Pat’s, who come from other parts of the city too, says Moriarty.

The new stadium will be designed to meet UEFA standards, allowing the club to host home matches in the UEFA Champions League, he says. And it could also be used for international women’s matches, concerts, and other events.

Possible stumbles

At the moment, 125 Emmett Road is currently used by St Patrick’s Athletic FC. And the council has purchased numbers 119 and 133.

But there are people living in some of the houses in between.

The council is negotiating with some property owners, says a council spokesperson, but it isn’t settled yet which buildings it needs for the redevelopment.

“There are concerns about what happens to the houses,” says Devine. “The facade will have to be protected.”

Pidgeon says that protecting the streetscape is a key concern. But as long as that can be done, he thinks local councillors will back the redevelopment.

A few other things need to be considered, says Devine.

Among the row of houses on Emmet Road is Kavanagh House, a community drop-in centre named after a well-known community activist, she says.

Also, there’s the question of how to manage any more traffic on top of the expected extra traffic from the new development planned for St Michael’s Estate, says Devine.

If the redevelopment takes a long time, would vacated buildings be left idle and disused like others on the street, or will the council seek out temporary tenants to use them in the meantime?

Said a council spokesperson: “That will be examined.”

More stories from Inchicore

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at lneylon@dublininquirer.com.

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