Dún Laoghaire ferry terminal to become 1,000-job ‘tech hub’
Plans for €20m investment aim to turn former Stena facility into innovation campus
The former ferry terminal at Dún Laoghaire harbour. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Two Dublin-based businessmen are to invest €20 million in the former ferry terminal in Dún Laoghaire harbour to create a hub for technology, marine and design businesses.
Philip Gannon, who emigrated 30 years ago “through the doors of the same building”, said the plan was to develop “a state-of-the-art shared innovation space for local and international companies”.
While Mr Gannon is described as “the visionary” behind the Harbour Innovation Campus, venture and technology entrepreneur Ian Lucey is also a shareholder and the plan is to recruit 1,000 “members” to share the campus.
Externally the landmark building will remain unchanged but internally the building will be redesigned to offer office and desk suites to start-ups employing up to about 20 people.
Internally the 75,000sq ft of available space in the former arrivals hall, departure lounge, baggage hall and ticket office buildings is to be redesigned to offer space to start-ups, with fees based on a membership charge per person.
Costs for membership will be in the order of €495 per person per month for a dedicated office space with reduced rates of about €300 for sharing a desk.
Mr Gannon who relocated to Ireland about three years ago, said a planning application for the internal renovations will be lodged next week. Pre-planning discussions have gone well, he said but allowing for an appeal, the timeframe for opening of the campus is in the middle of next year.
Mr Gannon said he the project would bring life to the harbour and Dún Laoghaire itself “will be transformed when the 1,000 strong workforce from all over Europe move in and breathe new life into the old ferry terminal and the surrounding environs”.
He said when up and running the campus’s 1,000 workers would contribute a significant upturn in local restaurants, shops, facilities, administration, bars and cafes.
A feature of the development is to be “a world-class maker space on site for creative prototype design in wood, metal, plastic and electronics”. It will also provide a space within the innovation units for bigger businesses and a range of affordable co-working spaces for people working remotely.
It is not known exactly how much the deal is worth to Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, but Mr Gannon said the €20 million investment over the 10-year lifetime of the lease would cover “rent and rates”.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company has been seeking a new use for terminal in an attempt to generate an income from the building which was opened 22 years ago to facilitate Stena’s Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead ferry service.
The Harbour Company is also selling a small parcel of land known as “the gut” at the base of the west pier.
Both moves are designed to generate income to meet the harbour company’s core objective of maintaining the harbour itself. Last year the Harbour Company spent €1 million on repairs to the Carlisle Pier and further repairs are needed to the west pier.