Private sector investment drives Cork city office boom

Private sector investment drives Cork city office boom
One Albert Quay

CORK city's office infrastructure is thriving due to private sector funding, with almost €400 million in private developments in progress in the city.

Cork City Council has played down suggestions that European funding is needed to deliver offices on Leeside following the recent success of Limerick City and County Council in securing €85 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to build an inner city office development.

It had prompted calls from some on Leeside for Cork City Council to do the same.

Work underway at Navigation Square, just one of the office developments progressing in Cork city
Work underway at Navigation Square, just one of the office developments progressing in Cork city

A report issued to councillors noted that development in Cork is thriving without any public sector funding, with approximately €375 million worth of developments underway or recently completed in the city, including Navigation Square 85-86 South Mall and Horgan's Quay.

A proposed development of 20,500 metres squared - more than twice the size of the Capitol - is expected to be in pre-planning with Cork City Council by the first quarter of 2018, too.

Two cranes were added to the city's skyline over recent days with another two expected to be in place in the coming weeks, according to city chiefs.

However, City Hall officials conceded that European funding could ease pressure when it comes to delivering key infrastructure, such as housing. 

A report to councillors noted, "The situation in Cork is fundamentally different to Limerick. In Cork, developments such as those funded by the European Investment Bank in Limerick are funded totally by the private sector, without the need for the public sector to take on any debt, no matter how favourable the terms are."

It continued, "Where Cork City Council requires assistance is in the funding of key infrastructure, housing (both social and private) and the further acquisition of underused properties."

It is anticipated that at least some of this will be funded by central government, with Cork City Council investigation loans and alternative options after other avenues have been exhausted.

Former Lord Mayor Chris O'Leary said that the figures prove that Cork does not need support in terms of office and retail delivery, though he said he hopes that EIB funds could be used to ease the pressure on housing in Cork.

He said, "It is worth noting that private developments in Cork have invested €375 million to date and there is further investment to come.

"But, we will require funding going forward. Hopefully Limerick's application will lead the way for others for the likes of derelict sites, infill housing and roads.

"The interest rate is cheap and it could be used to tackle problems in housing and could be used, for example, to purchase additional housing or apartment blocks."

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