Developer of planned Cork centre to seek extra €12m in public funds
Cost rises stem from increase in size of centre to meet needs of the operator , says BAM
The project is located on the site of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery on South Main Street
It comes fter design changes sought by operator, Live Nation have pushed the overall cost of the Cork project from €53 million to €65 million, .
BAM chief executive Theo Cullinane briefed city councillors on progress on the project. It has already been approved for €20 million in public funding - €12 million from the government and d€8 mllion from Cork City Council - before the latest request for more public funding.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney indicated on Monday that he believed Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is sympathetic to Cork’s plight and approval should be forthcoming for the additional €12 million.
Council sources pointed out to The Irish Times that if the government does grant the latest tranche of public money sought by BAM, it will bring the funding breakdown to almost 50 per cent private/50 per cent public with the public providing €32 million and BAM and Live Nation providing €33 million.
Mr Cullinane’s briefing with city councillors was held in committee so press were not present. Mr Cullinae refused to speak to the media either before or after the two hour meeting which was described by one informed source as “politely robust”.
However, according to the source, Mr Cullinane made the case that the project, located on the site of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery on South Main Street, would create 63 full time job and 585 spin off jobs in support services as well as the hospitality sector in Cork.
He said it was estimated that there would be returns to the government through general taxation while there would be a €200,000 a year return to Cork City Council in rates with a spin-off benefit to the Cork economy of between €17 and €18 million a year which would also have a tax yield.
He said the increased cost came from design changes sought by Live Nation, who only came on board after the tender process, which would see an expansion in the size of the centre from 10,000sq metres to 13,500sq metres to accommodate support facilities to make it a commercial success
The final costings, outlined by Mr Cullinane and BAM, have to be approved by the Cork City Council design team and the council evaluation with be sent with BAM’s application for extra funding to the Dept of Public Expenditure, councillors were told at the briefing.
Mr Cullinane said that the earliest construction could begin would be in September with construction taking 18 to 24 months but some councillors felt that identifying September as a start up date was being extremely optimistic and expressed that view to Mr Cullinane.
Fianna Fail Cllr Terry Shannon told the meeting that while there was considerable frustration at the delay in the project, given little had happened in the year since Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the site during last year’s election campaign, it was imperative that it progressed.
He pointed out that Limerick is also planning to develop an events centre and if it manages to get in ahead of Cork and start work and complete such a facility, then the Cork project could become a white elephant in that there won’t be a need for two such centres in Munster.
Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer said councillors have been frustrated with the delays to date but are now more confident it will go ahead.”There are still a lot of steps involved and we really need to see the proofs that BAM and Live Nation are fully committed before it can get any more public money.”