Iconic Kino cinema to be turned in €4m arthouse hub

It will operate as a café during the day and as a niche arthouse, with bar, in the evening
Iconic Kino cinema to be turned in €4m arthouse hub

A €4 million revamp of the iconic Kino cinema on Washington Street, Cork will turn it into an arthouse hub with 17 student apartments overhead.

THE developer behind a proposal to revamp the iconic Kino cinema on Cork city’s Washington St plans to spend up to €4m redeveloping the site into what he hopes will become an arthouse hub.

Kerry-based Philip O’Connor told the Irish Examiner that his proposal will dovetail well with plans by IRE Real Estate Investment Partners Fund 11 to redevelop the nearby former Square Deal site to accommodate circa 280 student beds.

A €4 million revamp of the iconic Kino cinema on Washington Street, Cork will turn it into an arthouse hub with 17 student apartments overhead. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
A €4 million revamp of the iconic Kino cinema on Washington Street, Cork will turn it into an arthouse hub with 17 student apartments overhead. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Ultimately, the hope is that the student accommodation will provide additional income for the site and create a niche community in a core city location close to third-level institutions.

Mr O’Connor said it would be envisaged that students enrolled in the Arts would be ideal residents. Out-of-college-term, the hope would be for short-term tourist lettings to supplement income.

The development on the 0.056 acre site (226 sq m) would include a basement for kitchen and services, a cinema/café/bar on the ground floor, three floors of student accommodation, and a roof terrace to act as a communal amenity space for the students.

Mr O’Connor said the roof terrace would offer great views over the city.

However, the overhaul of the Kino will not be implemented for some time yet.

Currently promoters Ed O’Leary and Joe Kelly, (The Good Room, the team behind Live at St Lukes), are managing it as a live music venue, theatre space, bar and café, and Mr O’Connor said they may re-lease it for another term when the current lease expires in October.

“We might let them have it for another year or two, they’re getting on fine, everything’s a bit up in the air at the moment with Covid, but we have time on our hands right now.” Mr O’Connor bought the site for €250,000.

“We thought it would be nice to have a space for young people who are just getting started, to offer opportunities for fellas to express themselves,” he said.

His own sons, Rory and Philip, studied acting and music.

The Kino Cinema opened in 1996 with one screen and seating capacity for 188 and was the only independent arthouse cinema in Ireland at the time. It played a significant role in the annual Cork Film Festival until It closed in November 2009. Attempts to turn it into a three-screen cinema never got off the ground. It re-opened in 2018 with the help of Mr O’Connor’s sons. Prior to its use as a cinema, it was the Pot Black pool hall.

Edge Architecture Ltd, who lodged the planning application on Mr O’Connor’s behalf, said it is believed the original building on the site was lost during the 1920 Burning of Cork.

Mr O’Connor said none of the conditions imposed by the city council as part of the planning approval are onerous.

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