Limerick unveils €500m development programme
Largest commercial development plan outside Dublin could yield more than 5,000 jobs
Businessman Denis Brosnan is to chair Limerick Twenty Thirty Strategic Development DAC. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
A €500 million investment programme to make Limerick the best placed English-speaking city in the European Union to capitalise on post-Brexit inward investment opportunities has been unveiled in Limerick.
Limerick Twenty Thirty Strategic Development DAC (Designated Activity Company) will be tasked with delivering transformational investment infrastructure across four strategic sites in Limerick City, with the capacity to create more than 5,000 jobs over the next five years.
It is the biggest single Irish commercial property development programme undertaken outside Dublin. The company – created by the merged Limerick City and County Council and with businessman Denis Brosnan as chairman – will prioritise the redevelopment of 1.4 million sq ft of prime real estate across the four sites into state-of-the-art office, retail, residential, education and enterprise space.
“This is about capitalising on Limerick’s opportunity to become the best placed Limerick city in Europe to capitalise on post-Brexit inward investment opportunities,” said Limerick City and County Council chief executive Conn Murray.
“Other cities have capacity constraints. We are now redeveloping over 1.4m sq foot of property for office, retail, residential, education and enterprise space and as we have seen over the past three years we are already proving our track record in terms of attracting investment this will enable us to do more,” he added.
“Brexit will happen in the next few years so we will be tempting those businesses; Limerick is the place to be, not Dublin. It’s a crime-free city. Everybody had a view of Limerick that it was deep in crime, which it was. Today you can walk the streets of Limerick any time of the day or night, it’s a crime-free city,” he said.
“Obviously, post-Brexit will help all the Irish economy. We want to be the city in the west of Ireland which will attract those businesses. So far they all go to Dublin but Dublin – if it’s not already – will get choked with traffic and Dublin doesn’t have adequate accommodation or office space at this stage and we think we are fitting into a niche and a time where we will be ahead of that,” he added.
Mr Brosnan was appointed in 2009 to spearhead the Mid West Task Force Jobs following the closure of Dell’s manufacturing plant in Limerick and the loss of 2,000 jobs.
Among his early recommendations was the merging of Limerick City and County Council to one unified local authority. He also advised that a number of key strategic sites be acquired by the local authority so it could determine the future development of the city centre.
“The key site will be Opera Site with 500,000sq ft of office and retail space. We will be tempting businesses who might be leaving London,” he said. Mr Brosnan described the prediction of 5,000 jobs as a “very pessimistic figure” and believes the actual potential for job creation in the four strategic sites will be far greater.
The four sites also include the 340,000sq ft Troy Studios Film Hub in Castletroy where an €8 million fit-out is nearing completion ahead of the commencement of production.
The 112,000sq ft Gardens International Office on Henry Street, will be ready for occupation in spring 2018.
The 8-acre Cleeves site, which Mr Brosnan helped negotiate from previous owners Kerry Group, is expected to be devoted to tourism activities.
“What’s important is to try to get developers back into Limerick, developers are scarce on the ground in Ireland. They are scarce on the ground in every city but they are totally absent in Limerick,” said Mr Brosnan.
“What we want is obviously where we will be the catalyst. The Limerick 2030 company will develop where there is a vacuum where nobody else is doing it. We would like to see lots of private developers moving into Limerick also,” he added.
Launching Limerick 2030, junior minister Patrick O’Donovan said the plan sees the local authority taking a “very brave step and the right step for the city and county and a move in becoming a big city on the west coast of Europe”.
Mr O’Donovan said the Government would look at supporting the infrastructural and transportation needs and upgrades in line with these developments.
Mayor of Limerick Kieran O’Hanlon said the aim of the redevelopment project is to grow Limerick to a city of 200,000 people working and living in the metropolitan district and to transform the city centre into a vibrant economic hub for the region.