Overseas interest confirmed

Investors believed to be from Middle East

FORMER Mayor Kevin Kiely has confirmed a recent report in the Limerick Post that overseas investors, believed to be from the Middle East, visited the city with a view to a major development programme.

“These people have serious money,” added Cllr Kiely, who was reacting to recent criticism from Cllr Tom Shortt to his suggestions that Arthur’s Quay should be sold off for development.

In an exclusive interview four weeks ago, a Limerick entrepreneur, with links to the overseas consortium, revealed that a 10 year redevelopment programme of the city centre was envisaged.

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The plan was, he said, to demolish buildings and streets and re-energise the entire city, as well as taking control of the Opera Centre, now in the hands of NAMA.

The investors, added the source, had met with the then mayor and other high ranking officials and viewed Limerick as the ideal location for their project.

They returned last month for a further inspection.

It has also emerged that another developer had set his sights on an entire city centre block with a view to transforming it into a shopping mall, anchored by an internationally known tenant.

Cllr Shortt meanwhile, described as “repugnant” Cllr Kiely’s recent call to dispose of Arthur’s Quay, seen as a key to future development plans.

Cllr Kiely responded: “Obviously he doesn’t know what he is talking about, he is new to the City Council, he should do a bit of research and get his facts”.

Development of the area, he continued, had been approved in principal by Limerick City Council when they were approached by developer Michael Tiernan in 2006.

“I attended a meeting in the Mayor’s office with Cllr Leddin and Michael Tiernan who had put together a proposal to ensure that there would be a huge development in the area, to include Liddy Street, Sarsfield Street and the Old Dunnes”. The proposed development, he claimed, failed to come about because of the economic climate.

“During my term as mayor last year, I was aware of interest from numerous overseas developers with really serious money.

“Now that The Opera Centre is gone into NAMA, it’s only a matter of time before someone will invest in this area”.

He stands steadfastly by his proposal to sell Arthur’s Quay Park.

“Everybody at that time agreed with the situation and the plans included the creation of a smaller public park.

“Something has to be done because it’s used as a haven for drugs, drinking, anti-social behaviour and rent boys”.

According to Cllr Kiely, Mount Kennett skatepark has become a constant source of irritation,

“It’s a headache and it’s a disaster, I voted for it originally but it’s in the wrong location and is something we should never have built”.

He described the €300,000 investment as an eyesore.

Reacting to a page one report in the Limerick Post two weeks ago that Mount Kennett was experiencing anti-social problems, he said: “It’s caused all sorts of problems and has become an eyesore, youngsters are going down there defacing the whole area with graffiti.

“I’d close it down”.