FÁILTE Ireland aims to have its landmark new tourist office open at the eastern end of Patrick Street by next April, in time to meet 100,000 tourists next summer.
Plans were this week submitted for the revamp of 125 Patrick Street, the former Black Tie building which has been idle for some time. If approved, work should begin before the end of the year, with Fáilte Ireland hopeful that it will open before the end of April 2018, replacing the tourist office on Grand Parade.
A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said, “[We] believe that this move will ensure visitors receive an even greater welcome and level of service when visiting Cork. The new office, which will be Fáilte Ireland’s first new design ‘free flow’ office to be launched, will be a major enhancement to the building fabric of the city’s most iconic street.”
The news of the development will be welcomed by city business chiefs, who have long bemoaned the fact that a prime city centre site has been idle for so long.
Fáilte Ireland secured the lease for the building in 2016. It had previously been home to Black Tie menswear store.
Former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Des Cahill, welcomed that steps were being taken to revitalise the area, which still includes a number of vacant buildings. He criticised the delays in reopening the building, though.
“I feel the abandoned condition that Fáilte Ireland has left the building in since taking custody of it is unacceptable.”
Mr Cahill had previously noted that the building is one of the first things tourists see when arriving in the city centre. He has challenged Fáilte Ireland to brighten it up ahead of the next big tourist rush: the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, which will take place in just over three weeks time.
“There is a possible three-month window before any works can commence,” he said.
“I am urging Fáilte Ireland to take proactive steps to showcase the exterior of the building in the coming months. For relatively minimal cost and with the cooperation of City Council the building’s windows could showcase our city and regions most popular attractions and festivals. I am not a marketing guru but some common sense can be applied by Failte Ireland to make it attractive.”
Mr Cahill called on Fáilte Ireland to reach out to active city art groups and volunteers, such as Mad About Cork, to turn the vacant building into a ‘positive feelgood project’ for the city ahead of the arrival of thousands of international visitors in three weeks.
He added, “It’s our busiest weekend with thousands of international visitors in the city. We in Cork have great pride in the jazz festival and I sincerely hope that Fáilte Ireland will take these positive short-term steps while they are awaiting planning approval.”