Last tower in St Michael's comes crashing down

Article Posted: Wednesday 6th March, 2013

Locals look to future as last tower block in Inchicore comes crashing down

JASON KENNEDY

Wed, Feb 27, 2013

Fifteen years after the first tower came crumbling down in a local authority estate in Inchicore, Dublin, the final remaining tower block was demolished yesterday.

The last tower block at St Michael’s Estate was knocked down as part of regeneration efforts, which will see a two-acre site with modern accommodation called Thornton Heights opened in its place later in the year.

Thornton Heights will contain 75 new housing units along with a series of community facilities and playgrounds. Former residents of St Michael’s Estate are being given the opportunity to move into the new area.

Development of the regenerated area was put in doubt in 2008 following the collapse of a public-private partnership scheme for the complex, under which developer Bernard McNamara was to have built 165 social, 75 affordable and 480 private homes on the site.

Laughter Wall

A total of 10 tower blocks have been demolished as part of the regeneration scheme. This demolition includes the destruction of a seven-storey mural known locally as the Laughter Wall, which depicts smiling residents and former residents.

The mural was created at a time when the area had a reputation for drugs and antisocial behaviour. It’s aim was to show that, despite negative perceptions, the area still had community spirit.

Former resident of Block 4 and member of St Michael’s regeneration board Caroline McNulty said she was looking forward to seeing what the new development would bring. “This block was my home and is full of memories for me. To see it knocked down is the end of an era, but I’m looking ahead and cannot wait to move into my new home in Thornton Heights.”

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said the time was nearly up for Ireland’s experimental tower block estates.

“High-rise tower blocks did meet a need at the time they were first built, but in the end they were not deemed a success worth repeating or keeping.”

The regeneration board is hoping that the main 10-acre site that makes up St Michael’s Estate will also be developed, said the board’s chairman Finbarr Flood. “We have waited a long time, but are delighted the new units will be available to the community very soon.”

Regeneration work

Bam Building Ltd received the tender for work on the regeneration scheme following the collapse of the deal between Mr McNamara and the council.

In February last year, work stopped after a dispute between Dublin City Council and Bam Building Ltd. The council halted work over alleged health and safety breaches at the site, but work continued following a resolution.

© 2013 The Irish Times