Rejected centre site set for hi-tech offices

Developer Owen O’Callaghan has confirmed plans to build a fourth-generation office block on a Cork City site which had been earmarked for an events and conference centre.

Rejected centre site set for hi-tech offices

It will be one of two major city centre office projects his company plans to undertake this year, he said last night.

“Our priority for 2015 is to develop the Albert Quay site for fourth-generation offices and to similarly develop our site at Anderson’s Quay,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

“We estimate that there is a requirement for 200,000sq ft of offices in the city in the short term and 350,000sq ft in the short to medium term.”

A team of architects, planners, and project managers have already met this week to start work on the development of both sites.

“The development of our quayside sites as premium office locations will give a significant boost to Cork’s efforts to attract foreign direct investment and indigenous investment, and will be a huge catalyst for further development within the docklands area,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

In the event of planning for the office project on Albert Quay being granted, it will create a tech-office corridor in that part of the city given that construction work on developer John Cleary’s One Albert Quay office block, nearby, is well under way.

Mr O’Callaghan’s Albert Quay site, with planning permission secured for a 6,000-seat events and conference centre, lost out just before Christmas following the conclusion of the city’s drawn-out event centre selection process.

He had been competing with the Heineken Ireland/BAM Contractors consortium which had planning permission for a €54m events centre on the former Beamish & Crawford brewery site on South Main St — the focal point of their massive €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration scheme.

Following a lengthy, competitive tendering process for public funding to secure the development of an events centre in Cork, a €20m taxpayer-funded kickstart package was awarded to BAM Contractors.

They are now engaged in a six-month consultation period with events centre operators Live Nation, before detailed designs for the centre are finalised.

In his first detailed comment following the conclusion of the selection process, Mr O’Callaghan said he was disappointed the Albert Quay site lost out but was glad a decision had finally been made.

“The design, planning, tendering, and public procurement process for the event centre site at Albert Quay went on for over five years,” he said.

“It was lengthy and complex for all parties and absorbed a lot of our management and staff time, so we are pleased that it has concluded. But in the greater scheme of things, the location of the event centre is neither here nor there.

“It is very important for Cork and we wish BAM/Heineken every success with their project.

“In the end, the level of public funding made it non-viable from our commercial perspective. Our site was single purpose, in that it was designed for an event and conference centre exclusively.

“The site at South Main St has a number of development elements including offices and apartment in addition to the event centre, so the cost and potential return can presumably be spread across the entire site development.

“We’re happy that we went as far as was commercially sensible with our bid.”

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