Council of Europe Bank backs Opera site with another €85m loan

Opera Centre
Artist's impression of the Opera Centre plaza


LIMERICK’S Opera site development is now fully funded after the Council of Europe Bank (CEB) matched last week’s €85 million European Investment Bank (EIB) deal with a similar loan offer.

The Limerick 2030 project now has a €180 million lending pool to fully develop the site as part of a wider rejuvenation of the city centre.

“Even six years ago, people didn’t think this was possible but we have come around now”, commented formed Finance Minister Michael Noonan as he told the Limerick Post that the European banking institutions believe there has been significant progress made in the city.

And he said there was a sense of excitement in the region as major rejuvenation plans receive the all important financial support to see them through to realisation.

Following the failed plans to develop the site as a large scale shopping centre, Limerick City and County Council took up the option to purchase the derelict Opera site from NAMA. The Limerick 2030 company was established and charged with re-imagining the development with a plan that would encompass a broader vision for the city.

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Now at planning stages, the development will comprise a city employment campus providing office accommodation in blocks of varying sizes. It will also involve the adaptive reuse of the existing Georgian heritage buildings on the site and the construction of a new public square with pedestrian links to adjacent city streets.

The Opera site employment campus is expected to meet the growing demand for high-quality office accommodation in Limerick. In addition to generating jobs, the loans provided by both the EIB and the CEB will protect the cultural and historical heritage of Limerick, while also modernising the city core.

Commenting on the approval of the European bank loans, Mr Noonan said that when he was Minister for Finance, he appointed John Moran to the EIB board of directors.

“Having people in there that I had worked with before helped get it through”, Deputy Noonan said.

“In fact I thought we would have had the announcement before I retired in June, but I knew it was far enough up the road then.”

He explained that the CEB was “put in place after the war to rebuild bombed out cities, so we are going to get another €85m from them and that is going to make this a very exciting time for Limerick, something of which I am extremely proud to have been associated and directly involved with.

CEB Governor Rolf Wenzel said the loan reaffirmed the excellent cooperation between the CEB and Ireland.

“I am pleased the Bank will be contributing to ‘Limerick 2030’ by supporting Limerick’s urban regeneration, which is expected to have significant benefits for the local population and the wider community. Improving living conditions is an integral part of the Bank’s focus on promoting sustainable development in CEB member countries.”

Last week’s EIB announcement was seen as a major step forward for the project and this week, the additional backing given by the CEB will make the Opera site a fully funded project.

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