Several influential business owners have backed one of two rival developers who are bidding for €16m in public funding to help build a conference centre in Cork.
The group of up to 50 city centre publicans, restaurant owners, and retailers said they fully support the €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration proposed by Heineken/BAM on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site on South Main St.
The Support the Brewery Quarter campaign is being driven by Derry O’Regan, co-owner of SoHo and the East Village in Douglas; 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 will meet English Market traders next week to seek their support.
They also launched an online petition last night which they hope will help influence key decision-makers charged with determining which project gets the public funding.
Developer Owen O’Callaghan has planning permission for a 6,000-capacity conference and events centre on Albert Quay.
A 6,000-seat €50m events centre is central to Heineken/BAM’s phased venture which includes the development of the brewery’s former Counting House as a tourist attraction, and the development of a viewing tower, cinema, apartments, and offices.
The Government pledged €10m in the budget to help secure the delivery of an events centre in Cork. The city council is ready to add up to €6m.
Consultants will examine both proposals before recommending which should get the money.
Mr O’Regan said those behind the Support the Brewery Quarter campaign will do all they can to ensure the Heineken/BAM project succeeds.
“We as a group would never forgive ourselves if we don’t try this,” he said.
“We have huge respect for Owen O’Callaghan but his site and proposal can’t compare to the Heineken/BAM site. 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.”
Mr Cantillon said the brewery project has enormous economic potential for the city.
“The event centre alone is expected to attract up to 400,000 visitors per year, with up to 225,000 people expected to visit the Counting House.
“Our city centre hoteliers are particularly excited about it as it’s expected to deliver 110,000 additional bed nights per year for Cork,” he said.
A spokesperson for Mr O’Callaghan said several leading business owners and hoteliers are also lining up to support his proposal on Albert Quay.
Planning permission is still valid for an events centre on the old Ford distribution site near Páirc Uí Chaoimh, proposed by Howard Holdings. But O’Callaghan Properties and Heineken /BAM are seen as the front-runners.
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