Mr Coveney said the city must build upwards, with more tall, high-density buildings, similar to the Elysian Tower.
Speaking at an event on the Government’s Ireland 2040 plan in UCC yesterday, the Tánaiste said that Cork can provide a real alternative to Dublin.
“It’s about rebalancing the country away from the dominance of the east coast.
“We’re going to see Cork go from a population of 120,000 people to 320,000 people in two decades,” he added.
“It is not simply going to be filling green fields with housing estates,” he added.
“It is going to be about building a real modern, sustainable city, with higher density, higher buildings, higher quality of life, better public transport, closer access to healthcare and school facilities, people who can walk and cycle to work because of a lifestyle choice.”
This type of growth will require billions of euro to allow Cork’s infrastructure to keep pace with the growing population, Mr Coveney said.
Mr Coveney added: “When you start calculating what that means in terms of job growth, in terms of healthcare, in terms of schools, in terms of housing, you begin to realise the kind of investment that is required, which is in the billions, in order to facilitate that growth and expansion so that Cork can actually achieve its true potential as a second city,” he said.
“I’ve often said that this plan is about building out 25% of the footprint of Cork city that is yet to be built."
Meanwhile, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised that the events centre project is going to happen.
Ground was broken on the Events Centre project in Cork more than 2 years ago but the project stalled afterwards, with developers, BAM, requesting more funds and submitting new building plans for approval.
Speaking at UCC, the Taoiseach said: “It is going to happen, we are getting there. It is really essential that Cork has an events centre, can have events in the city and can bring tourists in.
“I know how enormously successful the Convention Centre has been in Dublin, how beneficial it has been for business, tourism and retail,” he added.
“We need something like that, if not bigger than that here in Cork.
“I look forward to having big events in the Cork Events Centre very soon,” he added.
“It can bring tourists into the city.
“ I know how successful the While remaining tight lipped on any exact timeline for the Centre, the Taoiseach added that they are “a couple of weeks anyway from a conclusion” on the issue.
“For those of you who are skeptical, they said we wouldn’t do Pairc Ui Chaoimh, we did.
“This is very much next on the agenda,” he added.