The regeneration of Limerick
Scale of ambition reflected in plan for €500 million worth of ‘transformational investment infrastructure’
Limerick City and County Council is to be congratulated on its initiative in establishing a special purpose vehicle to undertake what has been billed as “the biggest single Irish commercial development programme outside the capital” over the next five years.
The Limerick 2030 Strategic Development DAC (Designated Activity Company), chaired by businessman Denis Brosnan, is believed to be the first such entity of this type to be created by a local authority here. It aims to transform a much undervalued city into “one of Europe’s most attractive investment locations” – with an eye to likely fall-out from Brexit. There are lessons for some of our other cities outside of Dublin; notably the scale of ambition.
The new company is charged with delivering more than €500 million worth of “transformational investment infrastructure” to facilitate accelerated development of four strategic sites in Limerick City for office, retail, residential, education and enterprise space, with the capacity to create in excess of 5,000 jobs, mostly in construction.
In doing so, it will add further momentum to Limerick 2030: An Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick, published in 2013, which the council says has already generated more than €1.3 billion in investment, creating 5,400 permanent jobs as well as a further 2,400 in construction.
This time, the focus will be on the Opera site at Rutland Street, the “Hanging Gardens” site on Henry Street, the Cleeves site on the Co Clare side of the River Shannon and the Troy Studios “film hub” in Castletroy, near the University of Limerick.
The Republic’s third largest city is well used to unveiling ambitious plans – notably the Limerick Regeneration programme, which aimed to reverse decades of neglect of some of its poorer areas, such as Moyross, only to be scaled down later.
Yesterday, as the latest plan was being launched, Father Tony O’Riordan, parish priest of Moyross, warned that drug gangs were again “flourishing” in the impoverished housing estate. A renewed Garda focus on dealing with this social cancer is urgently needed, he said. Otherwise, “I don’t think we will ever regenerate the community”.