South Mall’s ‘tech corridor’ emerging

A ‘tech corridor’ is emerging on Cork City’s venerable South Mall — the historic commercial boulevard is now to be bookended at the iconic 97 South Mall by fast-growing company Eventbrite, who may employ up to 100 employees there over the next few years.

South Mall’s ‘tech corridor’ emerging

A ‘tech corridor’ is emerging on Cork City’s venerable South Mall — the historic commercial boulevard is now to be bookended at the iconic 97 South Mall by fast-growing company Eventbrite, who may employ up to 100 employees there over the next few years.

Confirmation came this week that the leading ticketing and event technology platform Eventbrite has taken on a long-term lease on the imposing former bank building at the easter end of the South Mall, at the corner with Parnell Place.

The US-based global events booking company came to Cork two years ago, and settled on the South Mall, aiming to grow from 15 to 50 staff over a three-year period. The Cork office is one of several bases serving the FDI company’s European business, with employment potentially reaching 100 in the next few years.

Eventbrite now employs over 700 worldwide, and is headquartered in San Francisco, with other US offices in Nashville, and has sub-offices in several European cities including Amsterdam, along with Australia and South America.

No 97 South Mall bookends Cork city’s traditional business heartland, and its new occupants signal a shift in the street’s occupier profile. The architecturally classical Italianate limestone building dates to 1865, and was built for the Provincial Bank, and later was occupied by AIB until sold to media company Thomas Crosbie Holdings in the early 2000s, for a multi-million euro sum.

It was then significantly further invested in by TCH, overseen by ORSA/Reddy architects, and during TCH’s occupation the William G Murray-designed building hosted visits from a diverse group that included the likes of Henry Kissinger, former British PM John Major, Jeffrey Archer, John Cleese and Bob Geldof.

It was put up for sale several years ago, offering about 11,500 sq ft in all, and sold late last year for an unconfirmed €1.6m/€1.7m to developer John Cleary’s company JCD, via Savills, with JCD saying they would pitch it as a corporate HQ.

Now, a JCD spokesperson this week confirms: “Eventbrite has entered into a long-term lease for the entire building at 97 South Mall.” “Eventbrite, the world’s leading ticketing and event technology platform, was the first US technology company to move into the South Mall two years ago, when they set up an office in 89/90 South Mall. They have since outgrown this space and are now moving into a new home at 97 South Mall.”

The spokesperson said the building “has undergone an extensive refurbishment to bring it up to the modern standard required by a US FDI company, including; a new mezzanine floor, access-controlled lift, additional toilet blocks, open plan design, soundproofing and an extensive cabling and technology investment. The location and fit out will help the company attract and retain talent.”

No 97 adjoins the new Maldron Hotel with access to Parnell Place, South Mall and Beasley Street, currently being reconfigured and completed by the Dalata Group in a c €20m overall investment, while across the street at the other corner of Parnell Place, UCC is also investing in upgrades and adaptations to the 1842-built elegant former Cork Savings Bank at 1 Lapps Quay.

Between them, the two former banks compose a cut stone ‘gatepost’ to Parnell Place, where a second hotel is expected to be developed in the 19th-century repurposed warehouse buildings by the bus station (see separate Parnell Place office story these pages.) The turnaround in the South Mall’s fortunes was unexpected, as it had been thought it was heading into decline and commercial obsolescence, but recent investments include upgrades at the Imperial Hotel, a rescued derelict building redone by JCD at the corner of Parliament Street, and JCD’s

current building of 45,000 sq ft of new Gold LEED offices at 85 South Mall.

Having completed One Albert Quay and the Capitol development, the same firm JCD is upgrading the 1970s block at 89/90 South Mall, which it bought three years ago for c €4m and which at present includes KMPG as long-time tenants.

The completion of 85 South Mall is expected to see other relocations from the 89/90 South Mall offices, but no confirmation has yet emerged as to who will anchor and occupy the major portion of 85 South Mall.

Market observers note the rapid transformation of the South Mall, which is is now home to Eventbrite, Cylance, Keeper Security and The Republic of Work co-working space. In the last year the city centre hub has also attracted the likes of Facebook, AlienVault, Huawei and NgiNX, setting up offices at The Capitol and Lapps Quay respectively, and creating a sense that a tech corridor is being developed in the heart of the city centre.

Meanwhile, this week, Bank of Ireland confirmed it is to close 27 back-office/service centres nationwide, including two in Cork City, a presence at South Mall and at Bridge Street, by the end of 2018, with several hundred jobs likely to go.

Unaffected is Bank of Ireland’s Cork city flagship HQ at 32 South Mall, where it has been based of decades in a 1970s building, upgraded and reskinned in 2008/2009.

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