THE city centre looks set to get its first dedicated cinema since the closure of the Savoy after plans to transform the old Theatre Royal were approved.
Limerick City VEC is looking to transform two units in the historic Upper Cecil Street venue into a four-screen digital cinema and multi-purpose cultural centre.
And there is good news for city filmgoers: the man behind the project Paul Patton has said they plan to show “the best in mainstream, classic, documentary, European and world cinema”, with the first-run of many films expected.
The seven-nights-a-week facility, it is expected, will open by 2014, with funding from the public and private sectors, the City VEC chief executive Mr Patton added.
The plans show it will have four digital screens comprising a total of 384 seats.
Some 30 construction jobs will be created over a 12-month building period, with the facility expected to employ up to 20 people when it opens. It is hoped that it will bring 1,500 more people into the city centre each week.
According to plans at City Hall, the four-floor site is to comprise four auditoriums, a public foyer, and a cafe bar.
The project will also see a digital lounge, training rooms, conferencing facilities, digital studio, a production suite and a TV studio aimed at educational institutions in the city.
Documents submitted to City Hall state the Theatre Royal scheme “is an exciting new regeneration project which will benefit the city and region educationally, culturally, socially, economically and technologically.”
The document goes on to state: “The Royal will create a new workforce and enable digital media companies to establish, develop and thrive in Limerick city and the Mid-West Region. Even in challenging economic circumstances, the employment opportunities in this sector are immense.”
The development will be completed in two stages.
Phase one will see three of the four planned auditoriums, a digital lounge, training rooms, social spaces and a large cafe bar, while the second phase will see the redevelopment of the adjoining property at 29 Cecil Street into a digital incubation centre.
Here there will be office space for business start-ups, conferencing facilities, and sound engineering facilities.
Income from the cinemas will be used to “support the digital media, education, training and arts functions.”
The chairman of the City VEC, Cllr Denis McCarthy welcomed the news.
“It will bring more footfall and a bigger buzz around this area. It is fantastic news. It will give training for young people who will even be able to put on plays there,” Cllr McCarthy told the Limerick Leader.
He also congratulated the chief executive of the City VEC Mr Patton as well as the planning department “for their foresight and support” over the project.