LIMERICK will overtake Cork if we don’t build the events centre soon, a city councillor has warned.
A cheaper alternative events centre for Cork could be built on the city’s docklands for less than half the cost of the planned one at the former Beamish & Crawford site on South Main Street, claimed Fianna Fáil’s Ken O’Flynn.
Mr O’Flynn (FF) said Cork is in danger of falling behind Limerick in terms of development if a solution is not found to the impasse regarding the proposed centre.
It was announced last week that the European Investment Bank will loan €85m to Limerick City and County Council to develop a 3.7-acre site named Project Opera that will include offices, retail space, and a cultural element.
Project Opera forms the central tenet of Limerick’s 2030 plan and the news of significant foreign investment is seen as a coup for Limerick at a time when Cork City Council is awaiting sign-off on an extra €10m from the State — to add to the €20m of public money already pledged — for an events centre to be built by BAM and operated by Live Nation on South Main Street.
The BAM application is currently with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, having been submitted in early October.
The sod was turned on the BAM site almost two years ago but there have been no construction works on the site, apart from some preliminary clearance.
Mr O’Flynn said there has been too much procrastination on the BAM development and an alternative site with a reduced seating capacity would be more appropriate for a city the size of Cork.
“Cork is seriously in danger of being left behind yet again. The fact is if we don’t build our events centre and if BAM doesn’t get off the pot, we will fall behind,” he said.
“BAM are continuously looking for extra money and extra time. I don’t believe the events centre and Live Nation are the right fit for a city of our size.
“I believe an events centre could be far cheaper and more cost-effective down at the docklands, for about the €15m mark.
“It would bring the same amount of money into the city.
“I believe there are developers out there with an appetite, from my discussions, for bringing this to fruition,” he added.
The Limerick investment, announced last week, is a record commitment by the European Investment Bank for an urban Irish investment programme.
The Opera Centre is a four-acre site located in the heart of Limerick city on which the council is planning a huge commercial development.