University College Cork is set to transform a landmark former bank into a flagship business school hub after the city last night agreed to sell the building to the college.
Councillors formally agreed 23-4 to dispose of the former Cork Savings Bank premises on Lapps Quay to UCC for €1.425m after getting assurances that it was the best offer available, and that the building will be available for up to 12 civic functions a year.
The disposal price is almost twice the reported €800,000 acquisition price but council chief executive, Ann Doherty, said the deal will result in a €400,000 ‘benefit’ to the city once costs are covered.
Ms Doherty also said she is happy to ring-fence the sale proceeds and facilitate debate about how it could be used.
A spokesperson for UCC said they were delighted that councillors agreed to the university acquiring one of the city’s most iconic and beautiful buildings.
“This building has played a very significant part in the business history of Cork and we look forward to it playing a very significant role in the future development of business professionals in the city and the region,” the spokesperson said.
“We are confident that it will be a great centre for the executive education and research aspects of the Cork University Business School (CUBS).
“This, coupled with the recruitment of 10 professors for the business school and the ongoing plans for the development of a large business school building, speaks to UCC’s commitment to establishing Cork as a global player in business education and development.”
The council formally acquired the No 1 Lapps Quay and No 16 Parnell Place buildings, which together comprised the former Cork Savings Bank, from Permanent TSB in February.
The following month, city officials announced an open market process to identify the most appropriate and sustainable future use for the protected structure, and proposals were invited in a process administered for the city by Lisneys.
An independent panel was set up to consider the shortlisted proposals under a range of headings, including the financial offer, the proposed uses, the proposer’s track record and financial capacity to deliver, and manage the redevelopment of buildings of this importance and type.
The property was formally advertised in April for six weeks, and 19 expressions of interest emerged, Ms Doherty told councillors.
At the end of the six-week period, all interested parties were then invited to submit their detailed proposals.
Two proposals were ultimately shortlisted by the panel, and following more detailed consideration, UCC was recommended as the preferred proposal.
Ms Doherty said UCC is committed to developing a “world-class executive education centre” on the site.
“The centre, which will be the university’s Business School’s flagship building in the heart of the city centre, will provide fit-for-purpose teaching rooms, spaces to provide business educational courses and programmes in areas of technology, healthcare, financial services, catering for early to mid-career executives and professionals, as well as postgraduate and masters students,” she said.
While most councillors welcomed the disposal, the three AAA councillors and Independent councillor Cllr Paudie Dineen questioned the sale of a city asset.
Among those who supported the disposal were Sinn Féin councillor Shane O’Shea, who completed a graduate programme in Dublin.
He said the disposal would give Cork graduates an option closer to home.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved