Dublin Airport could be home to a €4bn high-rise "city" within 20 years, under plans unveiled yesterday.
Stretching over 350 acres, Dublin Airport City will be almost a third of the size of London's Dockland development. The completed project will include more than 600,000sqm of office space, as well as retail space, hotels and an aviation college.
The city is expected to be developed over 15 to 12 years, with the first phase coming on stream in 2012.
Launching the plans yesterday, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said the venture would ultimately contribute more than €1bn to the Irish economy each year.
Some 30,000 people are expected to work there, including 10,000 new jobs, while 2,000 people will work on its construction over the next 20 years.
Dublin Airport is far from the first to build its own city, but the DAA believes Ireland has a "unique opportunity", since the landbank at the airport is bigger than most other airports have.
The DAA already owns about 90pc of this land and says it is confident of buying up the "remaining pockets" in time for the development.
The airport authority has yet to firm up any tenants for the project, or finalise how it will be funded. But DAA chief executive Declan Collier said, after two years of "extensive soundings", he was confident there would be "plenty of interest" in the city.
The site will be directly linked to the airport via the new Metro, offering access from offices to airport in just six minutes.
On the funding side, DAA chairman Gary McGann insisted the project had a "managed level of risk", despite its vast scale. He also stressed the €4bn figure was a scientific figure for the value of the development and "not plucked out of the air".
The DAA is "hoping" their city will be processed through An Bord Pleanala's fast-tracked planning system for "strategic developments", since the project is "for the common good". Mr Collier, however, admitted there was "no doubt" that the project would prompt objections.
"What I hope is that we don't have the same kind nuisance objections that we've had for some development," he added.
Both Mr McGann and Mr Collier stressed the project would not detract from the running and developing Dublin Airport. The DAA hopes to make profits of €600m from the City, which may be used to fund airport infrastructure, they argued. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday applauded the "visionary" plans.