Home Limerick Business Former Opera Centre – Biggest city centre renewal project outside of Dublin set to get underway in Limerick

Former Opera Centre – Biggest city centre renewal project outside of Dublin set to get underway in Limerick

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Expressions of interest sought for €80m-€100m Limerick Opera Centre, which will employ 3,000 people

Project set to accelerate widespread renewal already underway in city

The biggest city centre real estate project outside of Dublin over the next 10 years has received the green light today (Friday).
Scale of the Opera centre site is a huge part of Limerick’s 2030 vision
The publication by Limerick City and County Council of an invitation for expressions of interest in the €80m-€100m strategic Opera Centre site has triggered the go ahead for the development, which is a key element of the 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick creating a new economic hub for Limerick city centre.
The re-developed 50,000sq metre area will be home to 3,000 jobs and a further 300 employed in the construction stage.
The 2.8 hectare site will provide for a mix of office, educational, retail and residential uses over a five year period, commencing over the next 18 months.
The project will be a breakthrough development for Limerick, revitalising the city centre area where a revival is already underway and become a major impetus for growth, not just for Limerick but the wider region. 
The University of Limerick (UL) along with their partners in the Shannon Consortium Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and Mary Immaculate College have committed to providing accommodation and additional facilities for over 350 students as part of the new development.
Announcing the move, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Conn Murray said that it will be ‘transformational for the city’.
“At a wider level the Limerick 2030 economic plan is putting Limerick on the map as a vibrant, competitive and creative European city and the Opera Centre development will be the key to unlocking much of its potential. 
“It will transform a key area of the city centre and act as a catalyst for other investment in Limerick becoming a commercial, cultural and social hub. The city’s economic renewal as envisaged in Limerick 2030 is already happening at pace with 5000 jobs alone in the city centre planned across seven strategic sites, but the Opera Centre development will be the most significant accelerant of all.”
The process of selecting a joint venture partner will take a number of months and will be followed by planning, with construction expected to commence in 2017.
The project is already underpinned by a government commitment to re-locate the offices of the Revenue Commissioners from their existing accommodation at Sarsfield House to a new state of art office development on the site that will house up to 900 staff.
It’s envisaged the project will be funded from public and private investment in common with projects of this scale and ambition.
Welcoming the announcement, Chairman of the Limerick Economic Forum Denis Brosnan said; “This joint venture will be a cornerstone of the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan.  It will trigger an economic shift in the city centre, complementing significant FDI investments announced over the past two years. The publication of the request for expressions of interest is a line in the sand for the overall project, one that will deliver enormous benefit for Limerick and the wider region.”
Said Limerick City and County Mayor Kevin Sheahan, “This is a hugely exciting development for Limerick. In the fullness of time we will look back at the redevelopment of the Opera Centre as the moment that took the economic rebirth of Limerick to a new level.  It will be a pivotal development for Limerick, helping to drive it forward as a modern, dynamic urban centre that will be held up as an icon for the new and competitive nation that Ireland is fast becoming.”
Press release from University of Limerick:
The University of Limerick is set to build on its long-standing relationships with Limerick City and its community partners by expanding UL’s visible presence in the City to promote greater economic, social and cultural development, with a 350 residence student village, a Clinical Therapies community practice centre and a city centre Design Laboratory for the UL School of Architecture.
Speaking after today’s Call for Expressions of Interest in the Limerick City Opera Centre development site, UL President, Professor Don Barry said: “The University of Limerick welcomes the progress made by the Limerick City & County Council in issuing the Call for Expressions of Interest relating to the Opera Centre site.  UL has committed to working with the Council and the selected private sector partners so that there can be a greater UL presence in downtown Limerick and our students and staff can contribute to the dynamic re-energising of the wonderful City of Limerick.  We will eagerly await the outcome of the Council’s competitive process so that we can work with the Council and the winning consortium to advance the exciting educational and accommodation projects we have proposed to contribute to Limerick’s renaissance”.
Limerick City and County Council proposes to allocate 10,000 m² of the “Opera Centre” site for Higher Education infrastructure. The University has identified projects that will take up all of this proposed allocation of space on the site.
For some time UL along with our partners in the Shannon Consortium, LIT and Mary Immaculate College, has been planning to construct student accommodation in Limerick City Centre. The Shannon Consortium has recently completed market research to assess the demand for the development of Student Residences at the Opera Site that will provide accommodation for 350 students to live in the heart of the City. The feedback from students at all three institutions is very positive and a strong demand is expected for the units once completed.
The University is also committed to developing teaching and research facilities in the city centre.  These will be developed in alignment with the Limerick 2030 vision for the transformation of the city centre and two UL projects have been identified for establishment in the Opera Centre site.
The Department of Clinical Therapies (CT) will develop an inter-professional, community-based practice in the Opera Centre to allow CT staff work with the people of Limerick to deliver health and well-being programmes to community groups.  This centre will also facilitate CT research projects, while enabling UL students to learn about professional healthcare delivery and adding to the health and social care of the people of Limerick.
The School of Architecture at UL (SAUL) will develop a city centre design laboratory that will be a very visible design hub in the city centre, including design teaching studios, an exhibition and design activity space, labs and an incubation centre for enterprise and innovation.
The SAUL and CT projects will involve the refurbishment of existing buildings on the Opera Centre site.
UL has been an active partner in the Smarter Travel initiatives aimed at enhancing transportation links between the campus and the City Centre. A feasibility study has been completed on the potential for a high-quality, high-speed dedicated corridor to and from Limerick City Centre for public transport linkage. Such a scheme would result in a much-improved standard of accessibility to and from the UL campus, and would also be highly complementary to the proposed city centre projects. Furthermore, the significant improvement in accessibility to the City Centre for the staff and students of UL would represent a significant boost to the re-establishment of the City Centre as the core economic driver of the Mid-West Region as a whole.

Statement from LIT:

LIT President says Opera Centre ‘go ahead’ will be watershed for Limerick
Friday, 27 March, 2015:
The President of Limerick Institute of Technology, Dr. Maria Hinfelaar, has today described the announcement of the go-ahead for the Opera Centre project as another key turning point for Limerick.
“At LIT we are looking forward to continuing to play our part in the redevelopment of the city centre by committing to the student accommodation element of the Opera Centre and expanding our core higher education facilities here also as part of the ongoing implementation our own wider campus masterplan- Campus 2030”.
“The economic revitalisation of Limerick is already underway but today’s announcement is a watershed moment as it effectively paves the way for one of the most significant investments ever in an urban centre in Ireland.”
“This development will do for Limerick what the IFSC and more did for Dublin city centre. It will add even further to the momentum already underway in Limerick which is very much the rising star of Irish urban centres and current investment flowing into it, including this project, reflects that.”

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