UL paid €8 million for Dunnes building without seeing a structural report

Former Dunnes Stores site, Sarsfield Bridge. Picture True Media

UNIVERSITY of Limerick did not have a report on the structural integrity of the controversial former Dunnes Stores site when the university sealed the €8million deal on the building.

And one month later, a report revealed that the building, as stands, would not support UL’s planned developments for it.

A report from engineering company Arup, delivered one month after the deal was done, found that the current structure of the former supermarket would not support a large multi-storey development on top.

The engineers report, commissioned by UL, also found that the ground floor would not be capable of holding heavy duty lab equipment due to the floor slabs not being strong enough.

However, it is now understood that the university was aware of these issues around the same time the controversial building was bought in 2019, for an €8.3million price tag.

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The university is still progressing plans to develop a city centre campus at the site near Sarsfield Bridge in Limerick City, but it is not clear whether that will mean demolishing and redeveloping the current building.

UL is continuing to draft a masterplan for the new city centre campus, working in partnership with Limerick City and County Council, who are also working on a masterplan for the wider Arthur’s Quay area, which takes in the UL site.

While the Arup report found that the building is structurally sound, and would be suitable for general academic use, it did not recommend its use for lab facilities.

The Limerick Post understands that this information was not news to UL when it was first published last weekend in the Sunday Independent, and that it doesn’t change their commitment to the site and to developing a city centre campus.

It is understood that the university currently has no final plan for how the building will look, but will work with the Council’s plan for a unified development along the River Shannon.

A spokesman for UL said: “Master planning for the city campus in collaboration with our partners in Limerick City and County Council is continuing.”

The former Dunnes building has been mired in controversy since UL bought it in 2019, with it being the subject of a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting due to the rushed purchase of the building, without the university having gotten any formal valuations as to what the building was worth.