In May, John Cleary’s development company, JCD Group, struck a deal with property investment firm Green Reit to purchase the office block in what has been seen since as a vote of confidence for the wider commercial property scene in Cork.
The success of the 50,590 sq m development which is more than half let, to PwC and Tyco, despite being months away from completion, will help entice further development in the city centre, according to Colliers International.
“The property side of it is the key one and it’s been a challenge because of the lack of development in the last six or seven years but a credible pipeline of property for an occupier — that is either already here or wants to enter the market — is quite important,” said Colliers destination consulting director, Roger Hobkinson.
“Cork does have very established property bases — the city centre and the business parks — but the city centre has particularly suffered with lack of development. There’s a trend, however, of a lot of the younger tech companies wanting to locate downtown. John Cleary was kind of pioneering in terms of going ahead with his development on Albert Quay because it’s very much what the market is looking for.”
His colleague Michael Donohoe, corporate services director at Colliers, echoed those sentiments, adding that One Albert Quay would pave the way for further construction in the city centre.
“There is demand for both out of town and in-town but because the trend is heading towards the city centre you’ve a number of schemes in the pipeline which we think will come forward. The Capitol Cinema site is the key one and potentially a really attractive offering. [Developer] Owen O’Callaghan has schemes that could be brought forward reasonably quickly as well.
“It’s reasonably hard for the IDA to sell the Cork market if there isn’t any product available for the occupiers when they arrive,” Mr Donohoe said.
Among the projects earmarked for the city centre are JCD’s €50m regeneration of the prestigious Capitol Cinema site on the Grand Parade; another €50m six-storey development on the former Brooks Haughton site on Copley Street; and BAM’s €54m events centre on the former Beamish and Crawford site.
The impending addition of the much-anticipated events centre is set to provide a boost to the city and bring it in line with equivalents in other parts of the world.
“All the [major UK] cities have a conference centre; most core and second-tier European cities have them. They’re a proven catalyst and a proven driver of any number of multiplier effects: generating more visits; more people staying; spending in the restaurants, bars, shops etc. They don’t really make money on their own but the benefits for the city region are big,” Mr Hobkinson said.