Criteria for events centre bid progresses

The process to select the preferred developer of Cork’s first multi-million conference centre took a step forward last night.

Criteria for events centre bid progresses

City manager Tim Lucey said he is now moving to finalise the selection criteria but he said they won’t be made public at this stage to protect the integrity of the process.

The news emerged after he briefed councillors at a private meeting on the process which will determine who gets a potential €16m incentive fund to secure the development of the facility.

Councillors were told that a strict tendering and dialogue process will be adhered to, which will result in a recommendation from the manager to councillors in May or June setting out who the preferred developer is.

Councillors were also told that a rigid public spending code copper-fastens the process and that they won’t be involved in the selection procedure. They may, however, be involved in a crucial stage once a preferred developer has been selected, if council funds are to be allocated to the project.

Earlier this month, Mr Lucey published a contract notice in the Official Journal of the EU inviting expressions of interest from parties for inclusion in a list of parties to move forward to a competitive dialogue phase.

The criteria will be applied to those who quality for the competitive dialogue phase. Those deemed to have “suitable solutions” will then be invited to tender, before a final project is chosen.

The government has put €10m on the table, and the council has indicated that it could stump up an estimated €6m. Two developers — O’Callaghan Properties, and a joint venture by Heineken Ireland and BAM Contractors — are considered front-runners.

Mr O’Callaghan has planning 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 Street.

Planning permission is still valid for an events centre on the old Ford distribution site near Páirc Uí Chaoimh, proposed by Howard Holdings.

In a written reply to Cllr John Buttimer later, Mr Lucey said once the criteria are finalised, they will be made available, simultaneously, to all applicants who pre-qualify for the competitive dialogue process. He declined a request from Mr Buttimer to disclose the criteria beforehand.

“Disclosure of such criteria before that time could be deemed to be prejudicial to the process, and as it is part of the deliberative process, it would not be made available publicly during the process,” he said.

And he confirmed that no informal consultation of a public nature has been initiated, nor will it form part of the process.

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