LIMERICK City Council are in the advanced stages of negotiations to purchase No 2 Pery Square from the Civic Trust as a headquarters for the City of Culture project.
While the process is not fully complete, a price has been agreed between the parties and a scheduled purchase is to take place in the coming weeks.
The house, built in 1880 and restored by the trust and opened in 1999, has been closed to visitors since August 2011.
Tom Enright, director of economic development in the new joint local authority, confirmed that the process was “underway”.
“We are currently going through the conveyancing process and it is not fully transferred to ourselves yet, but it is underway,” he explained.
“We are hoping that it will be transferred into our ownership in the very near future.”
The building is to become the headquarters of Limerick’s stint as national City of Culture in 2014, but access will remain open to the Civic Trust, who were forced to close the building and were struggling to meet the costs associated with it.
The price agreed between the parties was described this week by a person close to the negotiations as “market driven and very fair” and is thought to be in the low hundreds of thousands. Mr Enright declined to disclose the price, agreeing that it was “a fair price and one that we were happy with”.
James Ring, manager of the Civic Trust, said the purchase was “the best of both worlds”.
“With the cuts we have had to take over the last five years, we couldn’t do justice to the Georgian House. We couldn’t justify keeping it open and have the service you would need in there,” he explained.
“We are delighted that Limerick City Council are buying the house because it is staying in the public domain and our relationship with it doesn’t end there. It gets us out of our situation - it leaves us debt free,” he added.
The local authority has entered into a two month caretaker agreement while the sale is finalised, and the Civic Trust have agreed to leave the ornate furniture with the house, which was was hailed as a great success and a showcase of the city’s Georgian architectural heritage when it was restored.
A showcase event for City of Culture will take place in the house this Thursday night, and Mr Enright added that the purchase would help to “will bring life back to that part of the city”.
“People will be able to drop in and speak to the team and with it being the centre of the City of Culture project it will act as a catalyst hopefully to bring other activities to that corner of the Georgian Quarter,” he added.