Developer defends skyscraper planned for historic Cork site

Proposal for €250m complex will take account of port’s heritage, says Kevin O’Sullivan

The developers behind Ireland's planned tallest building on the historic Port of Cork site have moved to reassure the public that they are sensitive to the importance of conserving the area's rich architectural heritage.

The plan to build a 40-plus storey skyscraper as part of a €250 million office and hotel complex on the Port of Cork site at the confluence of the north and south channels of the River Lee has drawn much criticism in recent days.

Artist John Adams launched a petition to have the project scrapped and the Port of Cork property restored to public ownership and Oliver Moran of the Green Party called the plan "ludicrous".

But Ballinskelligs-born developer, Kevin O’Sullivan, of Irish-American firm Time Square Construction, which bought the three-acre site from the Port of Cork for a reported €5 million has defended the project and stressed how conscious he is of the area’s rich history and heritage.

“It was the presence of the historic Custom House and the wonderful bonded warehouses that attracted me to the site in the first place. We are putting in a lot of time and painstaking work on planning the conservation programme,” he said in a statement.

Mr O’Sullivan said that the proper restoration of both the Custom House at the front of the property and the bonded warehouses at the rear would cost tens of millions of euro but he was committed to ensuring they are properly protected.

“It’s easier to construct new buildings. The hard work here will be in preserving what is already there. We will fully embrace the maritime and commercial history of the site and restore the existing buildings to their former glory, making it a worthy visitor attraction in the heart of Cork City.

"It is our aim to develop a genuine community and civic amenity. It goes without saying that we will work closely with the city council on all aspects of the development," said Mr O'Sullivan whose company is still in pre-planning discussions with Cork City Council about the project.

“I would ask people not to pre-judge the issues but wait to see the comprehensive planning and conservation proposal we will lodge with Cork City Council later this year – it will be worth waiting for,” he added.