Former Anglo Irish Bank HQ becomes Starbucks

Well known Dublin building welcomes US coffee chain

The former headquarters of the failed Anglo Irish Bank on St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin is being turned into a Starbucks coffee outlet.

The Starbuck's sign, which appeared on 26 March, is the first name to grace the landmark building since its infamous former tenant's lettering and logo were removed almost three years ago. The American coffee chain is expected to take up a significant portion of the ground floor of the former bank, which sits amid a Georgian terrace on the north side of Stephen’s Green.

Anglo Irish was based there until it was officially wound down by the Irish state in 2011 following the spectacular collapse of the mainly commercial bank three years earlier. Anglo's heavy exposure to speculative real estate development left it seriously affected when the Irish property market crashed in 2008.

However, despite the fact that the nation is so familiar with the bank's former base not many people are familiar with the building’s history.

Known officially as Stephen Court, the building was constructed as commercial rental offices for the Irish Life pension fund, and was designed by Robinson Keefe Devane (now RKD), a Dublin firm which recently celebrated its centenary. The site's central location provided an enviable opportunity for the project's architect Andy Devane (1917-2000), who also had to be mindful of the new building's Georgian surroundings. Completed in 1971, it remains among the architect’s best known Dublin buildings, and was highly commended during the European Architectural Heritage Year in 1975.

A couple of years before it went into liquidation, a bouyant Anglo Irish planned to move to a giant, new headquarters on North Wall Quay in the heart of the capital's Docklands. The formerly abandoned section along the river Liffey became the centre for a frenzy of fast-track high-rise development at the height of the "Celtic Tiger" boom, much of which was bankrolled by Anglo Irish.

In 2008, before the building was finished, Dublin's bustling property scene went from boom to bust. The half-finished hulk of office block remained idle for some years and was eventually taken over by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the state body established in 2009 to deal with Ireland's financial and property crisis.

In May 2012 the partially-complete building in the Docklands was bought for a reported €7 million by the Central Bank of Ireland which plans to vacate its base on Dame Street and other smaller locations on Harcourt Road and Spencer Dock, and centralise its operations in the Docklands. Currently being upgraded by Dublin architects Henry J. Lyons, the 32,000 sqm building is expected to be ready for an integrated Central Bank by 2015.

The future of the soon-to-be-vacated Central Bank of Ireland headquarters on Dame Street is less clear.