THE Hanging Gardens site on Limerick’s Henry Street could be sold before the end of the week.
The major property, which saw €15 million invested in it during the boom by developer Robert Butler, was put up for sale in late January by NAMA for a mere €800,000.
Auctioneer Gordon Kearney, of Rooney’s agents in the city, said while the deal is not signed, sealed or delivered as of yet, he is hopeful that all the legal contracts could be signed off by the end of this week.
If the sale proceeds, he said it will have hugely positive implications for the city.
The five-storey development, which is partially completed, could accommodate up to 600 office workers in the former GPO building if it is fully completed.
Mr Kearney said it represents a “fantastic opportunity to breathe life back into this part of Limerick.
“It is a skeleton site at present and will require substantial fit out costs. We have a shortage, believe it or not, of large fitted out office space in the city,” he explained.
“For foreign direct investment looking at Limerick, they will require large office accommodation. From Limerick’s point of view, it’ll be fantastic because you’ll be bringing in large investment and employment into the city, ” he added.
Original plans for the site by Mr Butler would have seen retail space at ground level, and four floors of office accommodation over basement car parking. He had plans to reintegrate and restore two protected structures, the 1903 Mercantile Building and the 1808 Hanging Gardens Building.
In his budget report, the city manager Conn Murray also noted: “It has been recognised for some time that the lack of availability of quality office space of scale in the city centre is preventing jobs from being attracted to Limerick. Proposals are at an advanced stage to encourage NAMA to complete the partly completed Hanging Gardens development on Henry Street, which could provide quality accommodation for up to 800 people working in the city centre.”
City Council economic director Tom Enright also confirmed late last year: “If we want to attract significant foreign direct investment to Limerick, we need to have quality office accommodation of scale in the city centre. The quickest way [to do this] is to complete this development in Henry Street.”