THE pace of development in Cork city shows little sign of slowing, with the first month of the new year bringing a major city centre sale and planning news from all over the city and suburbs.
A recent industry report from AECOM confirmed that Cork construction continues to grow.
“This year’s review unlocked a message of positivity and optimism within the construction industry in Cork,” said Glenn Hanna, head of cost management in AECOM in Cork.
“With a nationwide 20% growth rate, Cork is set to thrive as the city continues to expand and prosper.”
Brexit is the great unknown facing all industries and sectors, but Conor O’Connell, southern regional director of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), doesn’t see it having an immediate impact on Cork.
“Even with Brexit, the prospects are bright for the coming year,” he told the Echo. “There are significant infrastructure projects taking places — the Dunkettle Interchange, the Port of Cork and the possibility that the Ballyvourney bypass will commence before the start of next year.
“That’s as well as the projects occurring in the city centre, the hotels and office project that are well underway.”
Signs of the resurgence are visible in all parts of the city, with cranes on the skyline and protective hoardings around dozens of on-street sites.
When concerns are raised by business about issues in Cork, it is about the urgent need for more homes and better transport and other infrastructure.
Mr O’Connell believes this need will ensure Cork’s growth continues for years to come.
“There is an infrastructure backlog, whether it is residential houses or whether it is roads, rail and public transport,” he said. “It covers a whole range of sectors, including schools.
“We have a growing population, a growing employment base and that infrastructural backlog will have to be met.
“We have no choice but to build what is needed for our society.”
This will also be the year when Cork starts to see the fruits of work that has been underway for some time.
The Maldron on South Mall became the first new hotel in the city in 14 years, when it opened its doors in the days before Christmas. The hotel is operational and is reporting brisk bookings while work continues to complete its dining and conference facilities.
Covering most of the block bordered by South Mall, Parnell Place, and Beasley Street, the four-star hotel is owned and operated by Dalata Hotel Group.
The second-largest hotel in Cork when fully completed in the coming weeks, it will be made up of 163 bedrooms, two restaurants, a bar, a cafe and five meeting rooms of varying sizes.
Nearby, the new University College Cork Centre for Executive Education, which is located in the former Cork Savings Bank building at 1 Lapps Quay, opened in November. It will house Cork University Business School (CUBS) and Irish Management Institute (IMI) programmes.
This is Phase One of a two-phase development for the business school in the city.
Another, larger, building development is expected to be announced later this year.