The biggest city centre real estate project outside of Dublin over the next 10 years, which could also see the redevelopment of a site which has been the cause of much concern, has received the green light.
The publication by Limerick City and County Council of an invitation for expressions of interest in the €80-€100m strategic Opera Centre site has triggered the go ahead for the development, which is a key element of the 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick creating a new economic hub for Limerick city centre.
The re-developed 50,000sq metre area will be home to 3,000 jobs and a further 300 employed in the construction stage.
The 2.8 hectare site will provide for a mix of office, educational, retail and residential uses over a five year period, commencing over the next 18 months.
The project will be a breakthrough development for Limerick, revitalising the city centre area where a revival is already underway and become a major impetus for growth, not just for Limerick but the wider region.
The University of Limerick (UL) along with their partners in the Shannon Consortium Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and Mary Immaculate College have committed to providing accommodation and additional facilities for over 350 students as part of the new development.
Announcing the move, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Conn Murray said that it will be ‘transformational for the city’.
“At a wider level the Limerick 2030 economic plan is putting Limerick on the map as a vibrant, competitive and creative European city and the Opera Centre development will be the key to unlocking much of its potential.
“It will transform a key area of the city centre and act as a catalyst for other investment in Limerick becoming a commercial, cultural and social hub. The city’s economic renewal as envisaged in Limerick 2030 is already happening at pace with 5000 jobs alone in the city centre planned across seven strategic sites, but the Opera Centre development will be the most significant accelerant of all.”
The process of selecting a joint venture partner will take a number of months and will be followed by planning, with construction expected to commence in 2017.
The project is already underpinned by a government commitment to re-locate the offices of the Revenue Commissioners from their existing accommodation at Sarsfield House to a new state of art office development on the site that will house up to 900 staff.
It’s envisaged the project will be funded from public and private investment in common with projects of this scale and ambition.
Welcoming the announcement, Chairman of the Limerick Economic Forum Denis Brosnan said; “This joint venture will be a cornerstone of the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan. It will trigger an economic shift in the city centre, complementing significant FDI investments announced over the past two years. The publication of the request for expressions of interest is a line in the sand for the overall project, one that will deliver enormous benefit for Limerick and the wider region.”
Said Limerick City and County Mayor Kevin Sheahan, “This is a hugely exciting development for Limerick. In the fullness of time we will look back at the redevelopment of the Opera Centre as the moment that took the economic rebirth of Limerick to a new level. It will be a pivotal development for Limerick, helping to drive it forward as a modern, dynamic urban centre that will be held up as an icon for the new and competitive nation that Ireland is fast becoming.”