BUSINESS leaders in Cork are waiting “with bated breath" to see boots on the ground and cranes in the skyline for the events centre project.
It comes following the announcement of a €50 million Government grant for the project.
Four years after the sod was turned on the multi-million euro events centre project, the development could be set to move forward as soon as May.
Lawrence Owens, Chief Executive of Cork Business Association, told The Echo that the association has supported the project in any way possible.
“It’s been a long journey. It’s a fantastic start to the New Year. It’s a great positive story for - not alone Cork - but I think for the region.
"Now we wait with bated breath to see the boots on the ground and the cranes in the skyline because that’s going to be the litmus test of when this will happen. I believe that could happen maybe around May, I’m not absolutely certain,” he said.
Mr Owens believes the announcement of funding is a very positive story and described it as “a game-changer for Cork for a variety of sectors.”
He believes that while the city will benefit significantly from both a cultural and social standpoint, it will also attract a huge amount of extra business to the city.
Mr Owens also highlighted the conference capacity the city will have once the event centre is completed in comparison to what is there now, “which is a big high demographic we’re missing out on in Cork,” he said.
“It also keeps money in the region from people from Munster coming to Cork to spend, instead of everyone from the region going to Dublin. It has a win-win right across the board,” Mr Owens said.
One of Cork’s most successful publicans and businessmen, Benny McCabe has described the announcement as “amazing”.
He says the events centre moving forward will see a major revitalisation of the city as a whole.
“We have planning for a new brewery and bar down on Cornmarket Street and if this is true we’d be building it sooner rather than later.
"A lot of projects are depending on the event centre as a kind of catalyst and if there is a start date you will see several projects getting the go-ahead in tandem with it. It really is a bright start to the new year for Cork city,” Mr McCabe told The Echo.
“Our investment decision was contingent on the Events Centre. Now we will start building that facility sooner rather than later.
"You will see an entire area of Cornmarket Street, North Main Street, South Main Street transformed.
"You’ll literally see a renaissance in the old town as a result. If we get all this right, Cork city is going to be a wonderful place,” he added.
Meanwhile, publican and businessman Ernest Cantillion said: “I’m delighted and relieved to hear the news. Cork needs a hub like this to keep a vibrant and sustainable city centre.
"With great investment in surrounding areas like the docklands, the city centre badly needs to stay relevant and give people a reason to socialise and shop there.
"The knock-on benefits of this event centre will be massive. Fingers and toes crossed it finally gets going!”