FEARS THAT the housing market downturn could scupper the €300 million redevelopment of Greystones harbour have been rejected by Wicklow County Council.
Responding to local concern that the five-year project – which is dependent on the sale of 341 housing units – could be halted by the recession, council chairman Derek Mitchell said 80 per cent of the new harbour’s south wall was already in place.
He said this, and a €10 million builders’ bond, would ensure that the harbour with its two public slipways and maritime club houses would be completed by autumn 2010, which he said would be “only a few months late”.
He said hoardings around the south side of the harbour would likely come down then, and the 230-berth marina would be completed later, “even if the housing at the northern end is mothballed for a while”.
The council’s spokesman on the project Seán Quirke said the developers were concerned at the fall in house prices, but insisted this was not affecting their commitment.
He said work on completing the outer walls had recently gone to a double shift and divers were working “until midnight and afterwards” in a bid to have the walls completed before next winter.
Sea swells last winter caused some movement in giant cement blocks before rock armour could be put in position and as a result by spring the project was running three months behind.
Work on the club houses has been put back to next winter to focus on completing the sea walls.
The council’s private sector partners are civil engineers John Sisk and home builders Park Developments, working as the Sispar Consortium. The project, which included the compulsory acquisition of properties on the sea front, is heavily dependent on the sale of the 341 new homes with retail facilities, and income from the marina.
In 2006 Mr Quirke said that “what has kept the scheme viable is the strong performance of the property market”. Mr Mitchell said he was confident there was always a market for houses in Greystones, and the timeframe of completion by 2013 could allow for a pause in house building if needed.