City centre on a high

PERSPECTIVE is everything. The country’s in a recession and Cork is finally getting the shopping it deserves — if this week’s rush to the new Dunne’s Stores outlet is anything to go by.

Now developer Owen O’Callaghan offers the sleek new Opera Lane centre, where worker bees are still polishing granite and laying flags prior to an October opening.

In the last recession of the 1980s, O’Callaghan built Merchant’s Quay — now he’s collected major international brands under a series of roofs stretching over Patrick Street to Academy Street, Bowling Green Street and back to Emmet Place. Jobs will flow from international signings like H&M, Topshop and Boots.

There are a total of 16 outlets in Opera Lane covering 1.5 million square feet, with more to come with O’Callaghan Property’s allied, Half Moon Street scheme.

The joint developments have connected the main shopping magnet of Patrick Street to the arty Paul Street area, giving independent retailers a bite of big brand business.

The final (Cork City Council stipulated) element is a series of smart, city centre apartments released ahead of the scheduled opening of Opera Lane.

The first lot, some 34 units ranging through one to three-bed apartments, are now open to the rental market through Savills.

There’s a whole new perspective on the city centre from the apartments. At the Emmet Place end, you can see right up the Blackpool valley almost to Kilnap and views span across to Montenotte on one side and the flat of the city on the other. Cork seems dwarfed from this new point and while there are buildings all around, the apartments are stepped up like a tiered cake, so the sense of privacy is good, too.

Designed by Paul Mulligan of Project Architects, he’s seen the entire build down to the last detail, including the interiors . He has designed the scheme with aplomb — a central, sun-lit atrium shines through three floors which are lined with glass balusters and strong feature lighting.

There’s statement carpeting in green with multi-coloured stripes and similar hues are picked up in large wall-hung tapestries.

The apartments are well fitted, larger than average and have a range of terraces and balconies and, sometimes, both.

Finished in walnut, with high-end kitchens and bathrooms, they offer grown-up living in a bird’s nest location off the city’s main street.

Access to the first block is via Faulkner’s Lane, (now renamed Opera Lane), and there’s car park access on Bowling Green Street.

The units are not being sold, (though exceptions can be made), but will be let at rents ranging from €950 to €1,400, though most will come in around €1,200 a month.

According to the Savill’s brochure, Opera Lane not only offers “the hippest address in town”, but has brand new apartments in a brand new street. And let’s hope the newness rubs off on all of us.


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