Cork events centre plans in turmoil as developer pulls out

An artist's impression of a night-time view of the proposed O'Callaghan Properties Cork Events Centre.

Plans to build a multi-million euro events and conference centre in Cork is in turmoil after one of two developers — O’Callaghan Properties — who were in the running pulled out at the final tender stage.

The venue’s proposed operator, Live Nation Ireland, has also expressed concerns about certain terms in the tender process, leaving question marks over the validity of the only tender now left on the table — the Brewery Quarter project. It will be examined this weekend by an independent panel overseen by PwC to determine whether or not it is valid.

The news emerged last night after the deadline for submission of the final tenders passed.

O’Callaghan Properties and the joint venture between Heineken Ireland and BAM Contractors, were the only participants in the final stages of a complex selection process which was due to conclude next week.

Mr O’Callaghan has planning permission for a €50m 6,000-capacity events centre on Albert Quay.

A €50m 6,000-capacity events centre is the focal point of Heinken/BAM’s €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration of the former Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St.

The chosen developer was in line to receive a taxpayer-funded incentive package of up to €16m — €10m from the Government and up to €6m from the city council.

Live Nation, the operator of Dublin’s O2, was working with both developers and was poised to operate whichever venue got the green light.

However, the Irish Examiner has learned that Heineken Ireland and BAM Contractors were the only party to submit a final tender by yesterday’s deadline.

A spokesman for Mr O’Callaghan said O’Callaghan Properties was not in a position to submit a “compliant legal tender as a result of the non-participation of the operator Live Nation Ireland in the tender process”.

“There is a specific requirement under the tenders conditions for an operator to be involved and to provide signed covenants for a tender to be accepted.”

It means Heineken and Bam’s Brewery Quarter project on the former Beamish brewery site is the only proposal left in the race.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who helped secure the €10m Government funding, said: “I welcome the fact that we’ve got a significant tender in.

“It would have been preferable to have two. Both sites are excellent.

“Both developers have the capacity to develop an excellent events centre.

“But PwC now need to work with the one tender. Obviously there needs to be an operator but I’m quite confident it will happen.

“Let’s give it time to work its way out. There is still an intention to make this happen.”

Live Nation could not be reached for comment last night.

The independent panel will begin assessing the Heineken Ireland and BAM Contractors tender this morning.

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