Boost for the Mid-West as work at Opera Site commences

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Pictured from left: Aoife Munnelly, Safety Advisor, John Sisk & Son Ltd, David Conway, CEO of Limerick Twenty Thirty, Frank Quirk, Regional Director, John Sisk & Son Ltd, Pat Daly, Chief Executive Limerick City and County Council and Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Michael Collins. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media

THE biggest single commercial property programme investment in Limerick and largest ever outside the capital got underway today at the Opera Site as demolition and enabling works begin on the €200m project that promises to provide a platform for Limerick out of current economic challenges.

Having achieved planning in February 2020, the demolition and enabling works programme were commenced today by contractor John Sisk & Son Ltd at the 1.62 hectare site that will, when fully developed, have the capacity for up to 3,000 employees across a 450,000 sq ft campus accommodation. The programme will take up to six years to complete, with up to 500 people involved in construction at peak on the site and at an estimated cost of €200m.

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Among the key elements of the project will be a 14-storey landmark office space building; a five-storey aparthotel with 13 separate apartments and retail on ground and basement levels; a 4-6-storey over-basement building with office space, retail and restaurant/café; a new state-of-the-art library plus significant public realm.

The site is being developed by Limerick Twenty Thirty DAC (LTT), a special purpose vehicle established by Limerick City and County Council in 2016 to stimulate economic and social development by building out and promoting strategic disused sites in Limerick.

LTT has already completed the award-winning and fully let Gardens International project on Henry Street, a 112,000 sq. ft development completed at a cost of €17.6m. Also included in its portfolio is Troy Studios, Castletroy, which is fully completed and let; the 10 acre Cleeves Riverside Project also in the city centre, which is currently at master-planning stage; and the 60 acre Mungret Park residential site on the grounds of the former Mungret College where a 200 unit first phase will go to planning in Q1 2021.

The Opera Site is fully funded thanks to finance from the European Investment Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank, with specific funding also through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The Opera Site will be developed to best practice sustainability standards under the LEED Gold and Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standards.

The extensive site demolition and enabling works will take up to 12 months to complete as will the demolition of all 20th century buildings and later additions, the adaptive re-use of the Protected Structures and other structures of heritage value. Three major site developments will take place in addition to the extensive enabling and demolition works over the first three years of the programme, including the new city library; aparthotel, retail and apartments and the Revenue Building & Granary developments.

Welcoming the commencement, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Michael Collins said: “This is a very exciting day for Limerick City and County Council, for Limerick Twenty Thirty but, most of all, for Limerick and the wider Mid-West region. This development is going to be crucial in helping Limerick springboard out of the economic challenges that pretty much everywhere is facing now.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan: “It’s fair to say that in terms of scale and significance, this is as important to Limerick as any other project planned for any Irish city or urban centre at the moment. We’re looking at an overall investment of €200m over the next six years. It’s going to propel the Limerick economy into a new era, it’s going to accelerate the social advancement of the city. It is also going to have a very positive ripple effect for a long time to come and way beyond the city but out into the county and into the region. I’m looking forward to that impact taking hold.”

Said David Conway, CEO of Limerick Twenty Thirty: “The Opera Site will be the single, largest commercial development undertaken in Limerick and the largest outside of the capital. Up to 3,000 people will be employed here across a 450,000 sq ft campus so that’s going to be a huge long-term benefit to Limerick and the region. Separately, there’s going to be very significant employment and an economic spin-off for the region in the six-year build programme. We have been mandated to develop sites that would accelerate the ongoing transformation of Limerick City and today as we begin works here is a great moment in that journey.”

Said Pat Daly, Chief Executive Limerick City and County Council: “The Opera Site has been the most talked about development in Limerick in modern times so we’re delighted, together with Limerick Twenty Thirty, to make this happen. Limerick Twenty Thirty was designed to stimulate growth in Limerick and the Opera Site is the biggest project in the programme and the timing could not be better. Every city and region beyond in the world is in the grip of the economic fall-out from COVID-19 but the Opera site will give us a real edge in recovery.”

Dee Ryan, CEO, Limerick Chamber: “From a business perspective, this is a huge boost to Limerick. It will be an invitation to FDI, to indigenous business to look at Limerick. Once they do, they will see a city very much open for business, forward thinking and a great place to work and live. Even if the world of work is changing, there is still going to be a requirement for office commercial space and the beauty of the Limerick offering is that we can offer that at world-class standards but very competitively priced in a great city and region to work and live in.”

Said Frank Quirk, Managing Director, John Sisk & Son: “John Sisk & Son is delighted to be part of this exciting project for Limerick that has been in the pipeline for a long time. We are at the initial stage of the project, starting with the enabling and demolition works. Over the course of the project Limerick City Centre will be transformed. Sisk has been associated with many of Ireland’s iconic landmark buildings and we look forward to helping this regeneration project have a major positive impact on the city and the region.”

Ciaran McArdle, Director, Cogent Associates: “As project managers for the Opera Site, we’re delighted to be involved. The Opera Site is hugely significant, not just for Limerick but the entire region. Limerick Twenty Thirty already has a reputation for building world-class commercial spaces to extremely high environmental and sustainability standards and the ambition being shown by it and the local authority will resonate far and wide. Put that together with the city and region’s competitiveness and quality of life and it really is a compelling offering.”

The Opera Site comprises:
A 14-storey landmark building at Bank Place comprising c. 13,264 sq m office floorspace
A 4-6-storey over-basement building, with 12,654 sq m of office space, 960 sq m retail and 430 sq m restaurant/café use at ground level
A 5-storey building on the corner of Patrick St. and Ellen St. comprising an apart-hotel (c.5,150.6 sq m), 13 apartments and c.1,013.8 sq m of retail at ground and basement levels
A refurbished 4-storey over-basement building on Rutland Street providing c. 444.2 sq m of ground and basement retail use, with three residential dwellings above
Refurbishment of 9 Ellen Street (Quinn’s) to provide a c. 1,260.3 sq m bar and restaurant
The renovation and adaption of the former Town Hall, including the construction of 6-storey over-basement extension, to provide a new public library of c.4,515.8 sq m, office floor space of 2,981 sq, retail of 196.4 sq m and 445.9 sq m of café/restaurant floorspace in the basement
The Bruce House Doorway will be relocated at the internal gable of number 8 Rutland Street within the new library building atrium
The refurbishment and adaptive re-use of the Granary Building on Michael Street
The construction of a basement car park at Opera Square comprising car parking spaces, car charging stations, secure cycle parking spaces, together with shower and changing facilities; additional secure cycle parking spaces at ground level.