THE DUBLIN Airport Authority (DAA) yesterday unveiled a €4 billion plan to build a new business district in the capital over the next 20 years that would employ up to 30,000 people. CIARÁN HANCOCK , Business Affairs Correspondent reports
Called Dublin Airport City, it is to be situated on 350 acres of land to the east of the existing airport complex that is not needed for airport activities. The ambitious scheme - designed by international architects HOK - envisages 600,000sq metres of office space and 40,000sq metres of retail, hotel and conference facilities.
This would make it roughly one-third the size of the London Docklands. The plan includes a 16-storey tower that could attract objections from locals and conservation groups. "It is reasonable to assume that there will be planning issues," the airport authority's chairman Gary McGann said after yesterday's launch.
Mr McGann said the plan is to cluster industries close to the airport, offering them ease of access to air travel, while only being six miles from the city centre.
No industries have been identified at this stage, although soundings had been taken with the IDA. The area was likely to prove attractive to multinationals, particularly those looking to establish head office functions in Europe, Mr McGann added.
The airport authority said the jobs in the area would be of "high quality".
IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary welcomed the plan. "This project is a vote of confidence in Dublin's future as a major centre for international commerce, increasing choice in the range and quality of property options available to companies considering locating in this region."
Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the plan as an "exciting new development" for the country. "It's important to plan ahead and put in train developments for the next stage of economic growth in this country," he said. The airport authority said the new "economic zone" would contribute in the region of €1 billion a year to the national economy and that the venture would be independently funded.
It is understood that the airport manager could seek investment from the National Pension Reserve Fund, which is managed for the State by the NTMA.
DAA chief executive Declan Collier stressed that the development would be "entirely ringfenced" from the DAA's €2 billion overhaul of its airport facilities, which includes a second terminal building.
Mr Collier said the new district would be built in five-year phases. The DAA will probably seek planning permission for the first phase later this year. Construction is likely to begin in 2010 with the first tenants moving in within two or three years.
The Irish Times