By Joe Leogue
Proposed changes to Limerick’s docklands could be a key economic catalyst for the city and the region in the years ahead, according to those behind the plans.
The Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) launched its framework strategy for 75 acres of riverside land into an economic hub.
The company has predicted that the programme could involve a minimum of €100m of development and redevelopment, potentially delivering 75,000sqm of new and existing buildings at the Ted Russell Docks, Corcanree Business Park and other sites off the Dock Road.
The framework includes proposals to refurbish the 3,000sq m Bannatyne Mills, which dates from the early 19th century, into a commercial hub for up to 300 employees.
It aims to promotion of the area as the Limerick Docklands Economic Park with a focus on business, technology, and marine energy uses and testing.
The framework also includes plans to visually enhance the area surrounding a group of heritage buildings at the eastern end of the port adjoining James Casey Walk, which will be achieved by demolishing insignificant adjacent buildings and features.
It also proposed the redevelopment of the 15-hectare Corcanree Business Park at the western end of the Docklands with the option of providing a direct, internal connection to the operational port, removing the reliance on the Dock Road.
Shannon Foynes Port CEO Patrick Keating said the plans are a guide to prospective developers to maximise both the dockland’s operational port potential and commercial industry potential in the decades ahead.
SFPC is Ireland’s second largest port operation, handling in excess of 11.3 million tonnes per annum with the value of trade handled at €7.6bn.
SFPC chairman David McGarry said the Ted Russell Docks have been central to that trade.
“The Ted Russell Docks have been the centrepiece of the company’s commercial enterprise here since its foundation but the framework strategy is the first time that we have sought to maximise noncore activity,” he said.
“We will do so in the best interest of our shareholder, the Government, and the city and region. But we will also do it in a way that supports existing port customers and ensures any future development respects the ecological value also of the docklands.”
The framework strategy was launched by Minister of State at the Department of Finance & Public Expenditure & Reform, Patrick O’Donovan.