Monday, 1 December 2008

Stadium plan for St Michael's Estate site in Inchicore

A LEADING Dublin soccer club is proposing to build a football stadium on the site of one of the collapsed public-private partnership schemes between Dublin City Council and developer Bernard McNamara.

St Patrick's Athletic has proposed building an 8,000-seat stadium, pool, community centre, library and about 50 houses on part of the St Michael's Estate site in Inchicore, The Irish Times has learned.

A housing task force set up by the council after the collapse of five PPP projects with Mr McNamara earlier this year is due to report back to councillors today.

The taskforce, which was briefed to look at alternative ways of regenerating St Michael's Estate, O'Devaney Gardens and Dominick Street, will outline the limited possibilities available to the council given current economic circumstances.

It is likely the council will suggest selling off parts of the individual sites for commercial development in order to fund the housing regeneration projects.

Assistant city manager Ciarán MacNamara says the task force has tried to stick to the "broad principles" previously agreed, "taking into account the changed economic climate". Despite the residential property slump, the council believes that, given the strategic location of the three sites, there is potential for a significant element of commercial development to part-fund new housing.

Mr MacNamara says the overall cost of €95 million can be met from annual capital allocations and release of equity from sites.

Following the collapse of the five PPP deals with Mr McNamara, the council began talks with US developer Corcoran Jennison, which was the underbidder in two of the contracts, for St Michael's Estate and Dominick Street.

It is understood that Corcoran Jennison is not interested in developing St Michael's Estate, leaving the proposal from St Patrick's Athletic as the only one at present. Although the club says it would follow best practice from the UK in integrating new stadiums into communities, the amount of housing in its proposal is much lower than proposed under the McNamara scheme. It plans to build extensive underground parking to address traffic issues.

Corcoran Jennison, which invited a delegation of councillors and officials to Boston to view its projects there, is interested in developing Dominick Street, near the city centre, and the new DIT campus in Grangegorman.

No alternative proposals have emerged as yet for the three other collapsed projects at O'Devaney Gardens, Infirmary Road and Seán MacDermott Street.

Residents of the affected areas plan to picket tonight's meeting in protest at the continuing uncertainty surround the regeneration, and their exclusion from the task force examining future options.

Since the projects collapsed, many St Michael's Estate and O'Devaney Gardens tenants have been rehoused, leading to fears locally that the sites could be sold for commercial development, with little or no social housing element.

Irish Times

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