It was standing room only on Thursday 27th October when Women in Property & Construction Ireland (WPCI) hosted it’s second networking event aimed at women working in the property and construction industry in the Green REIT owned One Molesworth Steet, Dublin 2.
The 150 woman networking event was followed by two panel discussions from industry leading figures, the first on the stunning development of One Molesworth Street by Green REIT and leading on from that, a thought-provoking panel discussion on the changing face of retail and how this will affect not just the industry, but society as a whole.
One Molesworth Street (Sponsored by Green REIT)
The first-panel discussion gave insight into the unique design, planning and construction challenges in the creation of One Molesworth Street and was led by Paul Culhane, Development Director at Green Property who oversaw the development.
Culhane told the attendees that the vision for One Molesworth Street was “to have two buildings in one, an impressive retail frontage coupled with a great office space” but that the quality necessary to create what Green REIT envisioned required significant investment.
“Our aspiration as a company is to build quality buildings that will stand the test of time and in order to do that for One Molesworth Street, we had to invest more in this space than we had originally budgeted for, but it has been worth it”, Culhane said.
One Molesworth Street is truly an innovation in an Irish sense, as it is the first LEED Platinum certified new building in Ireland.
Nellie Reid, Managing Director of Meehan Green said that while LEED certification is relatively new in an Irish context, it has been in play for 17 years worldwide.
“Green REIT were very forward thinking to put this in place in 2014, and currently there are 200 LEED projects in Ireland now, 36 of which are in Dublin”, Reid said.
The expert panel was rounded out Rachel McKenna, Associate Director of Axis Engineering who discussed engineering challenges of developing the unique site and by Seamus Sheahan from BAM Ireland, the lead contractor on the project who discussed the challenges on site during the construction phase including site access during the concurrent development of the LUAS Green Line and
Changing Face of Retail (Sponosred by Logical Group)
The second panel discussion at the WPCI breakfast networking event took on the Changing Face of Retail with an expert panel from Ireland and the UK, which focused not just on the nuts and bolts of construction, but on the way new technology and innovations in how consumers purchase will effect everything from how shopping centres are constructed, how leases are managed and how logistics – including warehousing and transport – will have to adapt and change to keep in-store retail relevant.
Claire Solon, Head of Property at Friends First highlighted the need for an integrated experience between shopping in person and online. She said that “there will always be a need for people to physically touch and feel products before they buy, particularly in larger format items”, such as furniture. Solon also highlighted that the change in retail will also have a knock on impact in the logistics and transport industries.
Sara Tack from Primark Property developed this approach and said that customers want an experience from retail – easy access including public transport and good car parking, an interesting array of retailers, and a wrap around total experience.
Add-ons to retail, such as cinema, bowling and other tangible experiences are a key part of making a retail offering viable – Consumers may be able to buy from home, but can’t go bowling in their living room.
One such immersive, seamless shopping experience can be had at Dundrum Town Centre, which is consistently rated one of the best known and highest rated shopping centres in Ireland and the UK. Ciara Connolly, Leasing Manager (Ireland) for Hammerson, said that one aspect of the change in retail trends is leading to landlords questioning ‘will this tenant be relevant to consumers throughout the length of the tenancy?’
This is having a significant effect on how landlords and tenants view leases. Connolly said that from a landlord perspective, flagship & experiential stores are in demand, but retailers are also looking for flexibility – leases now are 10-15 years in Dundrum, where they would have been 25 years
Florence Stanly, Executive Director CBRE Ireland, developed on the theme of changes in retail and how this changes the focus of larger shopping centres – larger department stores are taking on significantly more clients, who are individually using smaller space within the overall floor plan.
Rounding out the panel, Barry O’Halloran, Managing Director of the Logical Group, discussed the increased awareness of the need for regulatory compliance, particularly in light of the Grenfell Tower Disaster in the UK – this has focused clients minds. While health & safety is paramount with any development, clients are now much more invested in exceeding minimum standards than before and this can only help to enhance the industry.
Equality of opportunity
One of the most talked about moments of the networking event took place at the start of the panel discussions after a hearty early morning networking event fueled by coffee, fruit, and pastries.
Jean Winters, Director, Industrial Relations & Manpower Services at the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) played a wonderful short video the CIF has developed which is targeted at schoolchildren and is aimed at breaking the stereotype that the construction industry is the preserve of men – especially fitting given the success of the second WPCI event.
For more information about future events, please register HERE