Project Opera is going to dominate the city skyline, with work expected to start in 2018 - which could be a great year for Limerick
A VERY Merry Christmas and a happy New Year - let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. Words that never seemed more appropriate as the year 2018 approaches.
Never has a year seemed so bright and full of prospect as the approaching one does for Limerick. A series of major developments are transforming the city, while across the county, there are enterprising communities and employers uniting to boost the entire region.
Confidence has returned. Those people home for Christmas from far flung corners of the globe, forced to emigrate due to a lack of employment prospects, face the very real possibility now of remaining in their home county, one that is bustling with viable job prospects, for the first time in generations.
If 2016 was a year that peaked with a series of jobs announcements, 2017 was a year for consolidation and one that finally saw the promise of 2030 begin to bear fruit. Work at several flagship projects for the Limerick Twenty Thirty company - an offshoot of the City and County Council - has either started or is preparing to break ground.
Filming is about to start at Troy Studios on a major Netflix-bound television series, written by Game of Thrones author George RR Martin. If the show is even a fraction as successful as that iconic series, Limerick will be placed firmly on the production map, the envy of other studios keenly felt.
Work should finish on the Gardens International, an office with space for upwards of 700 employees, next year while Project Opera, which has the capacity for thousands of workers to inhabit a unique city space, should start. A plan for a conference centre at Cleeves could also see the light of day in 2018.
Other private developments will help to renew the urban area, included among them a major €8m expansion of the Savoy Hotel, a huge €40m office-residential development at Bishop’s Quay, while Paul O’Connell and JP McManus’ bold vision for a rugby museum on O’Connell Street could become a beacon for tourism in the city.
Plans for the city’s main street are due to be presented early in the new year by the council and it will be a watershed moment. Will the authority produce an equally bold vision or the same, safe plan we saw in 2017? Will people take to O’Connell Street to see something different materialise if the plans are not to their liking?
In the county, companies like Newcastle West firm GKinetic and Rathkeale engineering company Design Pro are proving that you can be successful with the right innovation and people behind you. Jobs in Ortec in Newcastle West should come on stream this year, while a development plan for the town, called Vision 2023, and should reinforce that it is a great town to live, work, grow up and do business in.
Abbeyfeale is surging ahead, as evidenced by an ambitious plan to develop a world-class technology and enterprise hub in an old convent building at a cost of over €3.5m. And the Great Southern Greenway from Rathkeale to the Kerry border can be a standard bearer for tourism in 2018.
Confidence is back, business is increasing, communities are stronger. Let’s hope it’s a good one.