Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Proposals for €40m Limerick city centre development to be lodged

PLANS for a €40 million development in Limerick city centre will be lodged with council planners later this week, it was announced yesterday.

One of the most ambitious projects to be undertaken in the city will involve the construction of six floors of commercial units.

This will consist of 60,000 sq ft of office and retail space developed on a site framed by Catherine Street, Glentworth Street and Mallow Street in the heart of the city.

Up to 600 jobs will be created within the office and retail complex.

A basement car park will hold 110 vehicles.

The project is being undertaken by the Catherine Street Partnership, a consortium which includes Limerick businessman Noel Harrington.

It is hoped work can get under way by next June.

The proposed site, adjacent to O’Connell Street, lies within the single largest employment centre in the mid-west with more than 12,000 people employed.

Zoned as commercial, the site forms part of the city area identified for conservation and re-generation activities by Limerick City Council. It includes the former printing works of the Limerick Leader newspaper.

Mr Harrington said the addition of office and retail accommodation would be a tremendous fillip to the city centre and would enhance its marketability as a location for business investment.

He said: “The project makes a confident statement about the future of Limerick. We believe it will be well received by local businesses and residents who will see it as creating critical mass of commercial and amenity infrastructure in an area earmarked for significant investment by Limerick City Council.”

The design is based around a free-flowing courtyard which will be accessible by pedestrians from Catherine Street and Mallow Street.

Mr Harrington said: “The courtyard provides light and ventilation to the surroundings spaces and access to the two main office entrances.

“The building design, by award winning architects Murray O’Laoire, is innovative and sustainable. The office accommodation is naturally ventilated with the openable sections concealed behind perforated copper mesh to simplify the facade. Glazing is sued in moderation and recessed throughout the building in order to reduce heat gains and provide cool light.”

Many of the existing buildings within the proposed development site are dilapidated and unoccupied.

Mr Harrington said: “This is a wonderful city centre site which, because of its overall condition, is crying out for development and rejuvenation.

“Our project is very much in keeping with the development strategies of Limerick City Council which see the city centre having, in addition to significant restoration of the old historic quarter of the city, a mix of high quality commercial, retail and amenity development. In terms of user access, the site is ideal. Catherine Street is within easy walking distance of Colbert Station, the primary rail and business station in the mid-west. This affords users of the proposed development comprehensive public transport connections to Ennis, Shannon, Cork, Dublin and other locations.”

The developers will be engaging in consultation on the project with local businesses, residents and other stakeholders over the coming months.

The announcement comes days after a revitalisation plan for the city centre was unveiled.

The authors of the plan warned the city centre was in need of development to keep pace with the retailing schemes which have raced ahead in the suburbs.

Irish Examiner

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