City breathes sigh of relief as €6m revamp ends

CORK can be more than proud of its newest public spaces, civic leaders said yesterday, as they officially handed them back to the people after two years of disruptive building work.

There was a real continental vibe as the sun shone through a parting in the clouds as Lord Mayor Brian Bermingham marked the official end of the vast e6 million Grand Parade revamp project, and the e700,000 South Mall boardwalk. Both caused severe disruption in the city centre for almost two years.

Assistant city manager Dan Buggy said the end result justifies the efforts involved in achieving it.

“We now have a street and public space in which the people of Cork can be justifiably proud,” he said.

Mr Bermingham thanked the business community for their patience and those in City Hall who delivered the project.

“This was achieved with a great deal of planning, organisation and most importantly patience from both the general public and particularly the businesses here on Grand Parade, who endured significant inconvenience for the duration of the works,” he said.

“I would like to thank them most sincerely for their forbearance and hope that they, as I do, feel it was worth the wait.

“Nothing worth doing or having can be achieved easily, but the re-birth of Sráid an Chapaill Bhuí, the Grand Parade, is now a central focus and an intrinsic part of the city council’s strategy to make the city centre more pedestrian and shopper friendly.”

Designed by Spanish architect Beth Gali, the Grand Parade renewal was part of the city centre’s street renewal programme, undertaken by the city council’s Roads and Transportation Directorate over the last 10 years, which also included the St Patrick’s Street revamp.

Work began on the 14,000sq m Grand Parade project in February 2006.

The last of the works were completed last November.

Work began on the South Mall boardwalk, designed by Arup Consulting Engineers with Architectural input from Murray O’Laoire, in September 2008. It was completed last January.

Cork Business Association (CBA) described both developments as wonderful additions to the city. “They really are fantastic,” spokesman Donal Healy said.

“We saw the benefits before Christmas when the Grand Parade hosted a wonderful food fair. And the boardwalk will host another food fair as part of this weekend’s St Patrick’s Day Festival.”

But city centre business owners are concerned about the length of time it took to complete the projects.

“We would look for contracts of this size in the future to be shorter, in terms of building time. We need to see these kinds of jobs done quickly, with disruption kept to an absolute minimum,” he said. Meanwhile, the South Mall boardwalk — the city’s second — will host a food fair with more than 40 stalls celebrating the best of Cork’s artisan foods and crafts this Saturday, Sunday and next Tuesday from 10am to 5pm each day.

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