Project teams pleased by prospect of public funding for Cork centre

Rival backers of multimillion- euro events centre projects in Cork have welcomed news that public investment may be available to help get the scheme off the ground.

O’Callaghan Properties and BAM/Heineken Ireland — which are both racing to be the first to break ground on a large-scale events centre — described the offer of possible public investment as a positive step forward in securing the project for the city.

They are now expected to be the front runners in thecompetitive process to secure funding from Cork City Council. It follows confirmation from city manager Tim Lucey that a report has found there is an economic justification for public investment in such a facility.

Mr Lucey said a large-scale events centre would be of enormous economic benefit to the city, generating between €8m to €12m per annum and supporting up to 160 jobs.

However, an expert assessment has found market failure exists and without some level of public funding or subvention, the development will not proceed.

Property developer Owen O’Callaghan is awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanála on his €50m, 5,000- seat venue, with concert promoters Live Nation’s involvement, for a two-acre site on Albert Quay.

Yesterday, the company welcomed the city manager’s invitation to tender for public investment. “The positive response of the city manager and the majority of councillors to the consultant’s analysis is also welcome and moves the realisation of this important project for Cork and Munster a step closer.

“We have always held that one of the advantages of our proposed location is that it can act as a catalyst for further development in the docklands area as well as generating significant revenue for the city.”

BAM, with site owners Heineken Ireland, already has planning permission for its €150m proposal to regenerate the former Beamish and Crawford site, with plans for a 6,000-seat event centre, bars, cinema, student apartments, restaurants, and shops, as well as galleries.

A spokesman for Heineken said: “We will review what exactly is involved, and the parameters of engagement but we welcome this and we will engage with the process.”

Planning permission granted to Howard Holdings in 2009 for a €33m conference centre on a docklands site off Centre Park Rd, is still valid.

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