A formerly-prolific commenter on here, John Corcoran has announced that Korky’s shoe shop on Dublin’s Grafton Street has closed after what appears to be a settlement of a long-running fight with his landlord, Canada Life. The epic battle was over the rent on the 900 sq ft shop at 47, Grafton Street, which has, in recent times, doubled as a giant billboard with the tireless John erecting a series of building-height posters championing the cause for reform to Ireland’s notorious Upward Only Rent Review (UORR) clauses in commercial leases. The clauses in leases created before March 2010, have left many commercial tenants today, paying rents at levels appropriate to the peak of the Irish property boom. Commercial market rents have declined by just over 50% from the peak, the economy has taken a hammering and retail sales have been badly hit and new tenants today enjoy a commercial advantage over tenants handcuffed in pre-March 2010 UORR leases.
John has been locked in a legal fight with Canada Life for a number of years –eight according to the Independent yesterday, but the High Court case is more recent – and although the terms of the settlement haven’t been released, it is understood that Canada Life has agreed to release John from his lease early, though with a payment of compensation.
This evening, the small shop on Grafton Street has metal shutters on the entrance and the windows are plastered with remains of the signs – “20% off all marked prices” and “closing down 8th January” and there are smaller posters saying business continues as normal at the three other Korky’s branches at Dundrum Town Centre, the Ilac Centre and “GPO” which probably refers to the branch on Henry Street.
So what does this mean for the campaign for reform of UORR lease terms, reform which was ditched in December 2011 when justice minister Alan Shatter hid behind finance minister Michael Noonan’s skirts in the Dail, and made what was a shock announcement then of the abandonment of a commitment made by both Coalition parties in the run up to the 2011 General Election.
Of late, John Corcoran’s Irish Commercial Tenants Association has taken to advertising in the centre-fold of the Phoenix magazine and the IrishEconomy.ie website seems to get a regular stream of stock comments lamenting the ballooning of property prices and rents in the 2000s, but with the settlement of the case on Grafton Street, it remains to be seen if the energy for the campaign for UORR reform will be dissipated.
And as it’s the end of an era, I’ll leave you with a record of the posters erected by John over Korky’s in the past three years.