Alongside King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral, the Opera Centre site could provide another iconic landmark on Limerick’s skyline
LIMERICK’s new metropolitan mayor Sean Lynch believes the new Project Opera development could be akin to a “Silicon Valley” environment in the city.
Limerick Twenty Thirty DAC has formally sought planning permission for a major redevelopment of the site around Patrick Street.
The site is to be developed as a “massive dynamic economic hub space”, with three high rise office buildings, plus smaller retail in a move which could bring thousands of jobs to the urban area.
The planning application comes more than five years after the former Limerick City Council bought the site, and Cllr Lynch believes the “patience and resilience” of Limerick people is finally paying off.
”I’m looking forward to seeing the Silicon Valley of Limerick city here. Making it attractive and competitive for international investment,” he said. “It’s great for Limerick and it’s people, and will represent a huge economic boost.”
Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan, who assisted the council with the purchase when her party was in government, said there was a “sense of relief” across the city that it is finally getting off the ground.
“I thought it would be a lot quicker than it would be in terms of it becoming a reality. It has been a dismal part of Limerick for quite some time now. One thing I would hope is that the university brings in a faculty or establishes a presence in the city. I would hope this is a strong consideration,” she said.
“We already have LIT with the fashion students in the centre of the city. But we need a presence from UL. It’s a very significant university.”
Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan has expressed concern at basement car parking space being provided for just 180 people, when potentially up to 3,000 people could eventually be employed in this area.
He also echoed Deputy O’Sullivan’s views on the need for UL to have a presence on the site.
“It would be disappointing if there was no university element. It would be much more beneficial if there was a residential element to the site. It would bring in a bit of life to that part of the city which come 6pm each night is derelict and quite empty,” he said,
“We need more people living in the city centre if we are to attract more foreign direct investment”.
Chamber CEO Dr James Ring said this planning application makes a big statement about the Limerick 2030 urban renewal programme, the Opera Centre element of which forms the cornerstone.
He said: “It’s long overdue. I’m delighted to see the momentum getting behind 2030, and we’re starting to see the realisation of a plan which was for too long just sitting there.”
“I always felt it would happen. It was frustratingly slow, but I knew from talking to senior staff in the council that there was always the will to make it happen. I think people were getting demoralised that it wasn’t happening though,” he said.
A public consultation process on the plans is now under way, and will continue until August 25. Since it’s a public project, it will be the job of local councillors to rubber-stamp it. This will likely happen in the autumn.