New lease of life for Odlums as R&H Hall silos face demolition

The plans being lodged for Cork's South Docks this week by O'Callaghan Properties (OCP) show the city's development past meeting its future
New lease of life for Odlums as R&H Hall silos face demolition

A view of the former Odlums building and R&H Hall building on Kennedy Quay, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

The plans being lodged for Cork's South Docks this week by O'Callaghan Properties (OCP) show the city's development past meeting its future: moves which were first mooted in the late 1700s for a new city core downriver of the old marsh centre are getting in gear.

It's only taken 240 years.

And, it's set to continue a linear progress over the past decade down the city's south docks onto Kennedy Quay, past One Albert Quay, and the 2019-completed One Navigation Square and the 2020-completed Two Navigation Square, the latter done by OCP with, they say, deals on the second office block pending and work likely to start on the remaining blocks behind in this 360,000 sq ft development in 2022 once block two is anchored.

An artist impression of the proposal from O'Callaghan Properties for the redevelopment of Cork's South Docks. Picture: Flythrough
An artist impression of the proposal from O'Callaghan Properties for the redevelopment of Cork's South Docks. Picture: Flythrough

The €350m, one million square foot first phase planning application (including c 200,000 sq ft of basement and ancillary services) being made this week by OCP encompasses city quays which have bustled for centuries, since land behind them was reclaimed for development, including part of a 1800s and early 1900s racecourse, which later became part of the Fords and Goulding sites.

The first phase of this South Docks plan for an initial 4.1 acres (out of a total of 31 acres in OCP's control) includes a whole new life for the hugely-admired red-brick Odlums grain building, to be more than doubled in size/depth around a central courtyard.

The proposal will have the Odlums Mills building as its cultural reference with overhead apartments, open roof trusses and billed as a milestone and “a cultural and tourist landmark for years to come.” Picture: Flythrough
The proposal will have the Odlums Mills building as its cultural reference with overhead apartments, open roof trusses and billed as a milestone and “a cultural and tourist landmark for years to come.” Picture: Flythrough

However, demolition is proposed for the adjoining 1930s-built concrete structure, the so-called R&H Hall silo building, to be replaced by a 12-storey, 54 metre office building, aping some of the original's features.

"Unlike the Odlums building, there are major structural issues which make a viable re-purposing of the silo buildings impossible to achieve,” according to OCP.

Demolition is proposed for the adjoining 1930s-built concrete structure, the so-called R&H Hall silo building, to be replaced by a 12-storey, 54 metre office building, aping some of the original's features. Picture: Flythrough
Demolition is proposed for the adjoining 1930s-built concrete structure, the so-called R&H Hall silo building, to be replaced by a 12-storey, 54 metre office building, aping some of the original's features. Picture: Flythrough

Company MD Brian O'Callaghan says there is a lean in the structure, weakened concrete and a particular honeycomb internal layout unlike some other repurposed silos (such as the UK's Newcastle's Baltic Flour Mills, now an art centre) and others they'd had researched, such as in South Africa's Cape Town.

An artist impression of the proposal from O'Callaghan Properties for the redevelopment of Cork's South Docks. Picture: Flythrough
An artist impression of the proposal from O'Callaghan Properties for the redevelopment of Cork's South Docks. Picture: Flythrough

Badly-needed apartment supply which the city has been awaiting might also start to finally flow, as proposals in the Government's Housing for All strategy may make apartment construction and owner-occupier purchase viable, according to OCP managing director Brian O'Callaghan.

He says they will develop one, two and three-bed apartments, including in one sharply-angled block by Victoria Road and the Idle Hour pub, similar to one they developed at Lancaster Gate on Cork's Western Road where, coincidentally a private hospital had also been proposed back in the mid-2000s. That Western Road site is currently being finalised with apartments being built there by OCP for AHB housing body Clúid.

The mixed-use plan, a springboard into the larger south docklands campus which can take up to 20,000 residential units in all, is being described as “a major driver of economic activity and employment,” capable of holding up to 5,000 jobs and 2,000 residential units, will have the Odlums Mills building as its cultural reference with overhead apartments, open roof trusses and billed as a milestone and “a cultural and tourist landmark for years to come.” 

Architects are Henry J Lyons, who have worked extensively over decades with O'Callaghan Properties among other Munster developers, and landscaping master-planning for the site is by Exterior Architecture UK, and makes allowance for pedestrian-only access along Kennedy Quay, and the intersection with the separately-planned East-West light rail to cross the river from Kent rail station, running towards Mahon.

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