Plans to build skyscraper at Port of Cork should be scrapped, says artist

Historic building should be developed as maritime museum, says John Adams

    Port of Cork buildings. Image: Google Streetview

Port of Cork buildings. Image: Google Streetview


The proposed construction of Ireland’s tallest skyscraper by an Irish American developer in a €100 million plus development at the historic Port of Cork should be scrapped, according to a local artist and activist.

Expressionist painter, John Adams said the historic 18th century Port of Cork building should never have been sold into private ownership but should have been retained and developed as a maritime museum which would help attract international visitors to Leeside.

It was revealed last April that Irish American developer, Kevin O’Sullivan, who owns Times Square Construction, had, along with his brother, Donal, bought the three acre wedge shaped site at the confluence of both the north and south channels of the River Lee for a reported €5 million.

Most of the buildings on the site are listed structures, including the dressed limestone Custom House, which was completed in 1819 to the design of architect Abraham Hargrave and first became headquarters to Cork Harbour Commissioners in 1880.

It is understood Mr O’Sullivan plans to develop the site as a luxury hotel and office complex which would include a 40 storey tower block at the eastern end of the site which would be over twice the height of Cork’s current tallest building, the 17 storey Elysian Tower.

Last October, Mr O’Sullivan, a native of Ballinskelligs in Co Kerry, who emigrated to the US in 1986, told The Irish Examiner that his team was currently finalising the design of the project to ensure it met all local and national planning regulations and requirements.

But Mr Adams, who ran for the People’s Convention in the 2011 general election in Cork North Central, has strongly criticised the proposal and in a press release, announced he is starting a campaign to try and save the Port of Cork site for the people of Cork.

“The Port of Cork buildings have recently been bought by American property developers. They plan to build the biggest skyscraper in Ireland on this site. It will cover up and destroy the port buildings. These are the most historical, prominent, visually beautiful buildings in Cork city.”

He said the buildings were constructed during the Napoleonic Wars by the prisoners of Spike Island more than 200 years ago and are supposed to be protected.

“They have the potential to make this city very special. These are a unique set of buildings and part of our cultural and historical maritime heritage and are of international interest. If this huge development goes ahead, the character of Cork will be lost forever.”

Describing it as “a disgrace” that politicians and planners had allowed the site be sold into private ownership, Mr Adams said he believed there were many who shared his belief that the site could be developed into an important civic amenity.

“The idea of the Maritime Museum in this location would connect the city to the harbour and would provide a perfect opportunity for ferrys to bring the people of Cork and tourists up and down the river Lee from Cork to the amazing harbour and Spike Island.”

The Port of Cork decided to put the site up for sale in 2016 after it received planning permission for a €100 million development of new facilities including a new headquarters at its land at Ringaskiddy Deepwater Port on the southern side of Cork harbour.