THE site of the abandoned Opera Centre retail project is finally to get a new lease of life as it emerged that Limerick City Museum is to move temporarily to the corner of Patrick Street and Ellen Street.
Limerick City Council purchased the two-hectare site from NAMA for €12.5 million before Christmas and the local authority has moved swiftly to bring some life back into a quarter of the city that has become a byword for dereliction and neglect.
The Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum - which has over 50,000 items in its collection - is searching for a new home away from its current location at Castle Lane.
Shannon Development is to begin work in the coming weeks on the €5.7 million redevelopment of King John’s Castle/Castle Lane.
Recent meetings of the City Council have seen councillors appeal for a new location in the city centre once Castle Lane was vacated. Director of service Pat Dowling said the ultimate ambition was for a permanent new home in the city centre and pledged the temporary location “would not be tucked away or hard to find”.
And this now appears to have transpired, with councillors informed last Friday that the new home would be on the corner of Patrick Street and Ellen Street in a building formerly occupied by Allied Irish Banks.
“It is actually a relatively modern building as far as the Opera Centre site goes and there wouldn’t be the problems associated with other areas of the site in bringing it up to an acceptable standard,” said Labour’s Cllr Tom Shortt.
“We are being told it will only be temporary. Shannon Development are doing their revamp of the castle, which in actual fact will focus as much on Castle Lane where the museum is. The design team is appointed and the project is gathering momentum so it was important we found a new location for our museum as quickly as possible.”
“The long-term plan is to have a state-of-the-art location for the museum but it was vitally important that the museum stayed open and in a central location. It’s a positive development for the city and there will at least be something else for tourists to do in the city centre and in a location that is near the Hunt Museum, the Milk Market, the cathedral and the castle,” said Cllr Shortt.
“It is also encouraging to see that Limerick City Council isn’t wasting any time in putting to use a site that cost an awful lot of money. I want to congratulate Pat Dowling and his staff for moving so quickly on this.”
That the museum is moving to a property now in the ownership of Limerick City Council also made financial sense, Cllr Shortt said.
City Hall has been paying rent to Shannon Development for the use of Castle Lane since 1998.