Culture Minister Heather Humphreys has said the cost of the proposed Cork Event Centre could reach as high as €73m, leading to questions over the project’s credibility.
The figure is a new high in the continuing saga which is seeing costs spiral as the centre’s protracted development continues.
Ms Humphreys gave the figure in a response to a query from Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock, who asked for an update on the centre’s cost.
“Figures are starting to fluctuate as secrecy continues to shroud this project,” Mr Sherlock warned.
Ms Humphreys said her department had allocated €12m to Cork City Council towards the cost of the centre on the site of the former Beamish & Crawford Brewery, subject to a service level agreement with the local authority “to ensure compliance with all relevant requirements in relation to major capital projects”.
“My department recently received further correspondence from Cork City Council indicating the overall project costs has risen from €65m up to between €67m and €73m,” said Ms Humphreys.
“However, the council and contractor have not yet finalised the full cost due to design changes required to provide full multi-functionality for the centre.
“My department is continuing to liaise with Cork City Council who have been asked to provide additional information on the cost increases.”
However, Mr Sherlock said the matter now needs to be addressed “as a matter of urgency”.
“We have no sight of the costs involved,” he said.
“The Cork public, bankrolling this venture, have no sight of the extended design requests.
“The credibility of the project is being questioned and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
Uncertainty has surrounded the project for a number of years.
Following a prolonged tender process, developers BAM and multinational entertainment company Live Nation beat the late Owen O’Callaghan to some €20m in state-aid for the project in December 2013.
Despite that, the sod was not turned on the site until February 2016, when then-taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Cork just days ahead of the last general election.
On the same day, the sod was turned on the regeneration of the Capitol site on Grand Parade, a development that has since been completed and opened to the public.
The Capitol building even hosted a husting as part of Fine Gael process to determine Mr Kenny’s successor, while the Beamish and Crawford site remains idle.
On the day of the sod turning, those behind the Event Centre said the facility would be open in 2018 — a prediction they rowed back on months later as the project stalled.
In May, it emerged that BAM had requested a further €18m in public funding for the centre, on top of the €20m already committed to it.
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