AN artist who has campaigned against a skyscraper development at the historic Port of Cork site has described new images of the proposed 34-storey tower as “dreadfully ugly”.
Cobh-based painter John Adams has garnered over 1,700 signatures for a petition against large-scale commercial development on the site of the Port of Cork buildings at Custom House Quay.
Tower Holdings unveiled plans yesterday for a €140m development on the site which will include a skyscraper hotel, retail units, cultural spaces, food and beverage businesses, office space, recreational areas and a micro-distillery, creating up to 800 jobs.
The building will be the tallest in Ireland, twice the height of the nearby Elysian Tower.
A planning application for the development is not expected to be lodged until later this month.
The developers have stressed that they will maintain the heritage of the site which includes the historic Custom House and bonded warehouse buildings that previously belonged to the Port of Cork, which is relocating to Ringaskiddy. They also have plans for a large public realm area.
Mr Adams delivered his petition to Cork City Council and former Lord Mayor Mick Finn earlier this year.
“I am not against skyscrapers or modernising our city but this is dreadfully ugly,” Mr Adams told The Echo.
“There should be an element of beauty to the buildings and some kind of joined-up thinking.
“They say they are going to maintain the heritage status but what exactly does that mean?
“There are also questions around the beautiful cobblestones. Will they be retained? There are so, so many questions.
“I will be making a submission on this when the planning application comes to the city council.
“I don’t understand why this is being built. It’s not much different to Liberty Hall in Dublin which is already over 50 years old. It’s a bog standard skyscraper and no defining features to make it beautiful. I don’t know why they have to insist on building it on such an important site. There are so many empty sites on the docklands,” Mr Adams added.
It has emerged that the developers will spend up to €25m conserving and adapting the 200-year-old Bonded Warehouses as part of the project.
Those uses will include cultural, heritage and harbour-related themes, niche retail, cafe and bars, and a new public realm on the south side and within the internally adapted, low-slung three-storey Bonded Warehouses.
Councillor and historian Kieran McCarthy at Custom House Quay said the development is “very welcome” and will secure the future conservation and use of the 1890s Port of Cork building and early 19th century bonded warehouses. However, he added he would like to see the skyscraper “reflect some of the surrounding maritime history”.