‘Brewery Quarter centre will see the dawning of a new era’

A view of the proposed €50m, 6,000 capacity centre by Heineken/Bam at the heart of the Brewery Quarter.

Despite opposition from heritage campaigners, Heineken Ireland and their joint venture partners BAM Contractors secured planning permission for their €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration project on the historic Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St.

A €50m, 6,000 capacity events centre is central to the scheme, and will be built first in a phased construction project over the coming years.

The group’s plans also include the development of a cultural and tourist centre in the former brewery’s landmark Counting House, a 360-degree viewing tower, a seven-screen cinema complex, artists’ studios, specialist retail units, student accommodation, and offices.

The consortium, represented by PR specialists, Murray Consultants, says the project will provide 400 jobs over five years, peaking at 520, and will support up to 900 direct jobs, with 300 indirect jobs upon completion.

Despite concerns about the traffic impact of such a large-scale development in the heart of the city centre, several publicans, retailers, and business owners, collectively the Support the Brewery Quarter group, is lobbying hard for this project to get the public funding.

The group, which has engaged H+A Marketing as PR advisors, includes Derry O’Regan, co-owner of SoHo and Douglas’s East Village, Electric and Voodoo owner Ernest Cantillon; Rearden’s owner Paul Montgomery; Cornstore boss Mike Ryan; and Mick Scully of the North Main Street Traders’ Association.

They have dismissed traffic and parking concerns and point to the location of at least six car parks within a 10-minute walk of the site.

Mr O’Regan said Brewery Quarter could kick-start the regeneration of several derelict and vacant sites in the core city centre area. “We have huge respect for Owen O’Callaghan but his site and proposal can’t compare to the Heineken/BAM site,” he said.

“There are some 2m square feet of property with planning permission within a half kilometre of the former brewery site. The Brewery Quarter project is a transformational proposal because it could kick-start the regeneration of the city centre.

“It will drive footfall, which is what city centre businesses want. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we have to get it right.”

BAM Contractors Ireland, which is part of Royal BAM Group of the Netherlands, have also pointed to their track record of developing conference centres across Europe.

The company has built several iconic events centres worldwide such as the 14,000 capacity O2 World Berlin; the 32,000 capacity Amsterdam Arena; the World Cup Final stadium in Johannesburg; the 32,000 capacity Dresden Stadium in Germany, and the Veltins Arena in Germany with a capacity of 51,000.

BAM has, within the last three weeks, handed over the £60m (€71m) 13,500-capacity Leeds Arena to Leeds City Council. The venue will hold 140 events a year, bringing thousands of visitors to Leeds.

BAM Contractors’ CEO Theo Cullinane, said completing this project has fuelled their ambition for Brewery Quarter.

“Investment in the Beamish and Crawford site can commence on a phased basis, starting with the €50m events centre, and we know only too well what a transformative impact such a facility can have for Cork and the people of Cork. We have delivered a number of state-of-the-art events centres across Europe on time and on budget and are looking forward to bringing this expertise to bear on this iconic and transformative project in the heart of Cork.”

Heineken Ireland’s corporate affairs director, Declan Farmer, said Brewery Quarter will have a transformative impact on the social, cultural, and economic prospects of Cork and the Munster region. “The €150m regeneration will deliver a much needed economic boost to the local economy to the tune of €22m in revenue per year and 1,200 jobs,” he said. “The multi-functional events centre at the heart of our plans will see the dawning of a new era for Cork by putting us on the map as a destination city for world class entertainment acts.”

A spokesperson for the consortium said they can start building within 14 to 28 days of notification after the competition for public funding.

A full work plan is in situ for contractors to commence as soon as possible.

“In effect the partnership is ‘shovel ready’ to go, and will take about 18 months to build,” he said.

Site proposal

Heineken/BAM proposal for the former Beamish and Crawford site:

- A €50m events/conference centre is at the heart of a €150m regeneration of the entire brewery site;
- The conference/events will have capacity for 6,000 people
- Average construction employment for a five-year period will be more than 400, peaking at 520;
- It will attract up to 400,000 patrons per year;
- It will deliver an estimated 110,000 bed nights annually.


Lifestyle

We’ll probably be seeing a particular royal in some of these dresses.Video: Temperley’s new collection is your dream holiday wardrobe

It's been a while since we last heard from Damien Rice - four years since his last shows in Ireland, five since his last studio album.Damien Rice is joined by special guests for a truly special show

Your guide to what's on this week.Gardening notes: Your guide to what's on

Timeless, the Irish Antique Dealers Fair, continues this weekend at the RDS in Dublin and is open from 11am to 6pm today and tomorrow.In Brief: Your guide to what's on in antiques

More From The Irish Examiner