THE redevelopment of the Opera Centre to accommodate a third-level campus has been described as a “cornerstone” of the Limerick 2030 plan.
Friday’s announcement heralded the end of a long period of uncertainty over the future of the vast site.
Although only one of seven parts of Limerick’s ambitious 2030 plan, which envisages a wider regeneration of the city, the fact the renewal of this area has Cabinet approval in the form of the relocation of the Revenue office means it takes on an extra significance, according to Pat Daly, the council’s economic director.
“It is a shot in the arm for Limerick, a real boost to investor confidence,” he said, adding it is an “iconic project” for Limerick.
Up until 2011, when the council bought the site, it was earmarked for a massive shopping centre. But Mr Daly said that plan was “not fit for purpose any more.
“We have our own demands and desires for Limerick. That is why we want this educational and financial campus. It [the Opera Centre] was a project of its time, but we are in a new time now.”
Mayor Kevin Sheahan said he was certain the plans would be welcomed by all 40 local councillors and described it as “a pivotal development...helping to drive it forward as a modern, dynamic, urban centre”.
The Limerick Economic Forum chairman Denis Brosnan said the search for expressions for interest is “a line in the sand” for the troubled project, as well as a “cornerstone” of the Limerick 2030 project. He predicted this redevelopment would “trigger an economic shift in the city centre, complementing significant foreign direct investment announced over the past two years”.
Limerick Chamber chief executive Dr James Ring said he is looking forward to the return to cranes to the skyline.
“Our city needs a few cranes in the skyline and people in employment during the construction phase of this project. Limerick Chamber are delighted to see this joint venture go to tender. It will no doubt become a key catalyst in igniting economic activity for our city and region,” he concluded.