John Cleary Developments (JCD) has bought the central city site of 0.64 of an acre, to include the Capitol Cinema, which went dark a decade ago, the Central Shoe Store on Grand Parade and sections linking back to St Patrick’s Street.
JCD is paying up to €6m for the site being sold by Savills for receiver Eoin Ryan of HLB McKeogh Gallagher Ryan, having outbid other national and UK interests.
They will seek to build large retail units for the likes of Inditex fashion companies such as Zara or Forever 21, along with fourth-generation offices above for 300 workers.
Critically, given that it is next door to the internationally-regarded English Market, the site may host a significant new entity, a food-related innovation centre.
That part-use is being promoted by Agriculture and Food Minister Simon Coveney, with interest already shown by UCC, Bord Bia, and the Musgrave Group among others.
“Cork is the heartbeat of Ireland’s food and drinks sector, the primary producer of beef, dairy, brewing and distilling, as well as artisan food producers and the main centre of farmers’ markets.
This development could tell that story, and also project the future with food research, innovation, tasting and testing,” Mr Coveney said.
He’s due to meet today for further talks with developer John Cleary, who is building a €50m office development, One Albert Quay, and who developed and tenanted 300,000 sq ft of offices in Cork’s Mahon in recent years.
The mixed-use development will have to be commercially viable, said Mr Coveney.
It would also be close to the Brewery Quarter, now set for an Events/ Convention Centre and possibly a multiplex cinema among other uses in a €150m development.
Also, it links St Patrick’s Street to Grand Parade’s English Market main entrance, as well as Washington Street’s restaurants, pubs, clubs and UCC.
“This will be a huge boost to local tourism and city centre traders,” said John Cleary Developments. Planning will be lodged within months and work could start by the end of the year.