Long before Patrick Kavanagh waxed lyrical about its leafy “love banks” the Grand Canal held a special place in the capital’s heart.
That stretch of canal between Leeson Street Bridge and Mount Street Bridge is as quintessentially Dublin on a sunny day as St Stephen’s Green.
The office workers of this commercial district spill out at lunchtime to soak up rare fine weather and browse the outdoor markets, while commuters walk and cycle along its banks.
Opportunities to live here are rare, and since the downturn there have been few, if any, residential developments of significance in the last decade.
Their latest scheme (a collaboration with London based U+I plc) overlooks the Grand Canal off Haddington Road at the Baggot Street Bridge end and comprises a mixed development of retail, commercial and residential units.
On a tight site, it has been cleverly designed by ODOS architects, who last year completed three striking townhouses with Oakmount on a tiny site on nearby Percy Lane.
At Percy Place there are just 12 apartments, but each has been completed to an individual design in order to maximise light and provide each with a canal-bank view.
The result is a labyrinthine layout of mainly two-bed apartments including two duplexes, plus one three bed and a one bed.
With prices ranging between €750,000 and €1.25 million for two beds of 78sq m to 128sq m (839.5sq ft and 1,377sq ft) , it’s a very “exclusive” offering.
It’s been a while since city-centre apartments commanded a price of almost €10,000 per sq m and knowing what we know now it would be fair to think they might be a hard sell. Apparently not, already half the units are taken.
So who’s buying? “We were surprised at the profile of those interested, because initially we thought the main interest would come from young professionals. But it’s been very different.
“The people looking are chiefly interested in the design and architecture, though the location helps too.
“They know exactly what they want, and are prepared to pay for it,” says Sarah Murray, selling agent with Sherry FitzGerald.
New owners include down traders from suburban period houses and professionals commuting between London and Dublin.
Huge floor-to-ceiling window walls slide open onto the canal terraces from the main living spaces and some bedrooms also have balconies.
On the upper floors skylights flood light through. The décor is in a monochrome finish by Bushell Interiors, with darkwood Ebony & Co parquet floors set against thick white Calacatta marble countertops and gas fire surrounds.
An interesting textured charcoal finish on the kitchen units adds warmth, while instant boiling water and clever pop-up power points and USB connections provide practical flourishes.
The main en suite has marble double vanity units and a walk-in glass screen shower featuring a full-length mirror wall with heat pads. (Me neither. I guess if you have to ask you won’t be buying.)
Oakmount obviously like the finish too, because they’ve relocated their own offices here.
The ground floor at Percy Place is mainly occupied by McKillen Jr’s hip new eatery Angelina’s which has been pulling in the crowds since it opened in November.
Across the road is Smyths Pub, a Dublin institution, while The 51 opposite is a match-day emporium.
Cool eateries Paulie’s, Juniors and The Chophouse are just down the street, while Milano’s is practically next door.
It’s an urbanite’s paradise, and if you don’t have a bike there’s a parking space for every unit in the basement.
Symphony House hits right note
Alternatively, if boxfresh designer apartments aren’t a deal breaker, an interesting waterfront alternative has just come to the market on the opposite side of the canal, a couple of bridges down at Leeson St bridge.
Number 39 Symphony House is a two-bed townhouse (78sq m/850sq ft) in a gated setting accessed from Adelaide Road, which has the significant advantage of a sunny south-facing roof terrace overlooking the canal between Leeson St and Ranelagh Road bridges.
Asking €695,000 through Felicity Fox, it averages less than €900 per sq m, and with its own entrance hallway has the feel of a private house.
Nicely finished with solid oak doors, floors and porthole windows, the open-plan reception room is cleverly located upstairs with floor- to-ceiling glazing looking onto the terrace and canal beyond.
The roof terrace is decked with inset lighting and screened for privacy.
The city centre, Ranelagh, Baggot St and Donnybrook are all within a 10-minute walk. There’s an annual management fee of €1,700.