Waterford City and County Council is to demolish, within weeks, a derelict 113-year-old grain store on a quayside site earmarked for a €300m development project.
It was one of only two such structures built in Ireland, alongside a surviving counterpart in Belfast, and was deemed “an important structure” by the Natural Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
However, the local authority has voted unanimously to demolish the nine-storey disused building, the last remaining structure on the North Quay.
The decision paves the way for an imposing project on the 17-acre North Quay site, which will also incorporate proposed developments across the city’s river, on Michael St.
The project promoters are the Saudi Arabian-based Fawaz Alhokair Group, whose proposed investment has been welcomed by Fáilte Ireland.
Former chairman of the South East Regional Authority, deputy mayor, Cllr John Cummins, said the planned investment will “transform the city” and create 3,400 jobs.
Waterford mayor, Seán Reinhardt, said it was envisaged that a 3D laser survey of the derelict structure will be undertaken to “record and preserve its imprint perpetually”.
The former R & H Hall flour mill on the North Quay was built by William Friel and designed by French engineer, Francois Hennebique, using a steel-reinforced concrete system he pioneered. The structure is the last physical link to the inner city’s role as a shipping port in the early 1900s.
The draft plans for North Quay include retail, office, hotel, tourism, and conference facilities, housing and open space.
The site is predominantly owned by the local authority in Waterford and also the Port of Waterford company, which relocated its operations 4km downstream to Belview in 1992.
The proposed Michael St area is Nama-owned and already has full planning for a retail complex.
Waterford council wants both sites simultaneously developed and regards it as fundamental that both developments are linked.
The city has lodged a €61.5m application to the Government to fund a new pedestrian bridge, a public transport shuttle, new road interchanges, and a traffic hub, involving the cross-river relocation of the train station.
A public consultation process on the future of the Hennebique building had attracted eight submissions, which favoured its retention and included Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht, along with Waterford People Before Profit.
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