THE European Investment Bank has signed off on an €85m loan for Limerick, a record commitment and one that can "rejuvenate the city".
The EIB confirmed this Thursday that it will commit €85 million in lending to Limerick City and County Council to be spent on transforming the 1.62 hectare Project Opera site in the city centre into one of the country’s top urban commercial/office developments, with the capacity for 3,000 jobs.
EIB Vice President Andrew McDowell travelled to Limerick for the announcement - marking the first time the bank has made finance available for a local authority programme in Ireland since 1993, with the 25 year loan its largest ever urban investment here.
The contract was signed today by Mr McDowell and Conn Murray, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council.
Also in attendance were Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Stephen Keary, Chairman of Limerick Twenty Thirty Denis Brosnan and CEO David Conway and other public representatives.
The Opera Site will be the largest single project in the Limerick Twenty Thirty programme which was launched last year with the establishment of the special purpose vehicle with the aim of delivering over €500m worth of transformational infrastructure across key strategic sites in Limerick.
The Limerick Leader understands a further multi-million euro commitment will be forthcoming from the Council of Europe. The monetary commitment, alluded to by Mr Brosnan in his speech, will see approximately €65m committed to fund the remainder of Project Opera.
Sources have indicated the council will meet Friday morning, and sign off on the finances following this.
Mr McDowell said: "The European Investment Bank is pleased to support this impressive and ambitious investment that will transform the city of Limerick over the coming years.
"This will create thousands of new jobs, renovate vacant buildings to provide much needed office space and regenerate historic buildings in Ireland’s third city, as well as reducing energy bills for public buildings.
"As the bank of the European Union, the EIB has a unique track record supporting sustainable urban development across Europe and improving the quality of life and economic opportunities in cities around the world. Following this record new support for urban investment in Ireland we expect to announce co-operation with further local authorities in the coming months."
Mr Murray said: "This is another day that benchmarks the new Limerick that is emerging, one that is breaking new ground at a national level time and time again and this record funding from the EIB is the latest evidence of that. This commitment by the bank is a statement of the confidence and sense of ambition that Limerick has today.
"It also very much validates the step we took to create Limerick Twenty Thirty, the first local authority special purpose vehicle of its kind in Ireland."