JOE GILL: Cork city shaping up for great 2017

As it is the last week of 2016 I’ve taken my glass half-full tablets for this final column of the year.

A random walk around Cork City provides a swathe of developments that provide reasons to be optimistic as we enter the new year.

Foremost among those is the looming edifice of the Capitol Complex which will energise the city centre.

Aside from the direct economic benefits of the jobs that will fill the site in 2017, there are knock-on effects for retailers and hostelries.

The English Market needs little additional traffic given its already bustling and thriving community of food and drink offerings.

Compared with the monotony of global chains which have anaesthetised so many urban centres, the market is a clarion call for independent and unique produce sellers.

That vibe is increasingly evident across the city, with cafes and restaurants managed by owner occupiers.

For a flavour, spend a morning traipsing between the cafés Idaho or Velo, pop into the always impressive Waterstones books store and lunch on the terrace of the Farmgate restaurant inside The English Market.

I’d challenge anyone to provide a better mix of quality goods and service in Ireland or beyond.

There is much more to come.

The tortuous birth of the new Beamish and Crawford development will hopefully advance during 2017.

The site may well provide the bridge, literally and figuratively, to bring University College Cork and the city ever closer.

With over 20,000 students, and ambitious plans to expand its footprint across the city, especially by its fast-moving business school, UCC will play a central role in propelling the city’s fortunes.

After Brexit, UCC could well capture significant amounts of funding and lure undergraduates and postgraduates from wealthy Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries. 

That would further enrich the cultural mix of the city.

There is more.

With planning approved for the new O’Callaghan development on the east side of the city, another major commercial pulse is in play.

To see how this will unfold just look at how Albert Quay has settled down as the home of a major multinational and the host of hundreds of jobs close to the centre. That will be replicated with the new site which, again, is a magnet for employers seeking competitively priced space inside the EU.

If you walk further east along the river on the south side, you can see the frame of the new Páirc Uí Caoimh stadium rising.

As well as being the home of many headline concerts and conferences, let’s hope it will also be a trigger to returning Cork hurling and football to their proper places in the national game.

Outside the centre, there are signs too that transport is improving.

Work has begun on showing off Kent Station in its true beauty, once the walls on the north side of the river are taken down.

Cork Airport has secured more short-haul connections within Europe and will have two services offering North American routes from the summer. 

Both Wow and Norwegian Air Shuttle deserve as much support as possible from the surrounding region for those routes next year.

With a plethora of Government and Central Bank initiatives, it looks too that housing supply is finally starting to accelerate.

While providing much needed direct employment this also holds the promise of widening the choice for consumers and, hopefully, without excessive price hikes.

There are, of course, a flock of Black Swans in the air.

Donald Trump, Brexit, geopolitical risks and domestic complacency about costs and prices all pose threats.

They are always issues to worry about.

But through my rose-tinted glasses, entering 2017, Cork is in its best condition for over a decade. Happy New Year.

Joe Gill is director of corporate broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.


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