Limerick’s economic resurgence took another giant step forward today as the European Investment Bank (EIB) confirmed a record commitment for an urban Irish investment programme.
EIB Vice President Andrew McDowell travelled to Limerick for the announcement, which will see the bank commit to €85million in lending to Limerick City and County Council to be spent on transforming the Opera Site in the city centre into one of the country’s top urban commercial/office developments, with the capacity for 3,000 jobs.
This is the first EIB finance is to be made available for a local authority programme in Ireland since 1993.
The Opera Site will be the largest single project in the Limerick Twenty Thirty programme, which was launched last year with the establishment of the special purpose vehicle with the aim of delivering over €500m worth of transformational infrastructure across key strategic sites in Limerick.
The programme is already progressing with the 80,000 sq. ft ‘Gardens International’’ office accommodation project in the heart of the city set for completion late next year.
The four acre Opera Site was acquired by the council in 2011, after a planned redevelopment under private ownership failed to materialise. Limerick Twenty Thirty will also develop the eight acre Cleeves site on the northern bank of the River Shannon and has commenced master-planning for the 200 acre Mungret College site on the outskirts of the city, which will have the capacity for up to 850 residential units.
The EIB finance contract for the 25 year loan – the EIB’s largest ever urban investment in Ireland – was signed at the Council’s Corporate Headquarters in Limerick today by Mr McDowell and Council chief executive Conn Murray.
Describing the Opera Centre development as an impressive and ambitious investment, Mr McDowell said it would create thousands of new jobs, renovate vacant buildings to provide much needed office space and regenerate historic buildings in Ireland’s third city, as well as reducing energy bills for public buildings.
“As the bank of the European Union, the EIB has a unique track record supporting sustainable urban development across Europe and improving the quality of life and economic opportunities in cities around the world. Following this record new support for urban investment in Ireland we expect to announce co-operation with further local authorities in the coming months,” he added.
Mayor Stephen Keary said the funding would ensure Limerick would continue the remarkable journey that had seen it become Ireland’s greatest urban success story of the decade.
“The city is transforming at a rate faster than any of us could have anticipated but thanks to this EIB funding, it’s not just a momentary investment; our growth is going to be sustained,” he declared.
Council chief executive Conn Murray said the commitment by the bank was a statement of the confidence and sense of ambition that Limerick has today.
“It also very much validates the step we took to create Limerick Twenty Thirty, the first local authority special purpose vehicle of its kind in Ireland,” he explained.
Limerick Twenty Thirty Chairman Denis Brosnan said the EIB funding would ensure that the rapid progress already achieved by the group just 14 months into its existence, was merely the start.
“This is a long-term project that is going to transform Limerick into one of Europe’s fastest growing cities and one capable of competing for inward investment on an international scale. The funding will be specifically available for the Opera Site project, which will be a landmark project not just on a local but national scale,” he concluded.
More business news here