THE Limerick Leader can confirm that Limerick City Council have bought the Opera Centre site with funds made available from the Department of the Environment’s Regeneration budget.
The announcement has been confirmed by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan this Friday afternoon, who said he hopes “it will get life back into the centre of the city.”
“Regeneration means more than regenerating the suburbs with social problems,” the Minister told this newspaper. “The biggest regeneration challenge in Limerick is to regenerate the city centre. We were afraid the Opera site would go to a developer who would sit on it for 20 or 30 years and we’d be left with all this dereliction, with no possibility of developing it,” he said.
Minister Noonan said the department had funds left over from its Regeneration budget this year, which they allocated to Limerick City Council to purchase the site from the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA).
He said an urban development plan will be drawn up for the site in three months, which is expected to become “a commercial, cultural and social hub.”
“Obviously we’ve only ideas yet, but we want to get the professionals in, and plan the whole area from the docklands right across.”
It is understood the council have been in discussions with the University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology regarding having student residencies in the massive complex.
The sale was concluded this evening.
Peter O’Meara, the agent in Cork with Savills, said he was “delighted” the sale had gone through, which he said is “great for Limerick.”
While the cost of buying the site has not been revealed, it had been reduced in price to €12.5m, after its value plummeted from over €100m a number of years ago.
A statement is expected shortly from the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.
FOR MORE SEE THE MONDAY EDITION OF THE LIMERICK LEADER