PLANNING permission has just been granted for what will be Cork City’s tallest office block, a €100m building of 16-storeys facing the River Lee, with a plaza and redeveloped former railway buildings, on Albert Quay and Albert Street.
The approval for the tall office block – twice the height of any existing Cork office building to date - comes after the developers the JCD Group last year switched plans to offices, from a proposed €125m 25-storey ‘build-to-rent’ apartment tower with 200 apartments, citing the financial non-viability of apartments on the site which would need rents of €2,800 pe month to work.
The south city docklands’ location for this new office development is just downriver of Cork City Hall and the completed One Albert Quay office scheme, done five years ago by JCD, while just next to it is another sizeable office scheme, Navigation Square, currently in advanced delivery by O’Callaghan Properties.
Setting for the development is a river-fronting site, previously occupied by Carey Tool Hire and the Sextant pub, and it includes several former rail and ticket station buildings which are protected structures and which be integrated into the overall office-led scheme.
It’s also adjacent to the 17-storey, mixed-used Elysian scheme, with over 200 apartments, developed in the mid to late 2000s by O’Flynn Construction. The site also faces Custom House Quay, where planning is in place for a 34 storey hotel scheme for US-based developers, who have recently started site works on a slender, 15-storey office tower by the city’s bus station on Clontarf Street.
News of Cork City Council’s green light for JCD Group’s latest office development has been welcomed by the company, who said they will now begin the detailed design and tendering process, prior to construction.
“We are looking forward to starting work on the €100m project, which will bring both investment and jobs to Cork city centre and continue the current momentum in the city’s Docklands,” said a company spokesperson.
“This is a key project on a pivotal site which encompasses best in class office space, significant investment in a new bar and restaurant in the protected former railway terminus building, the renovation of the historic protected ticketing office and the delivery of a new public plaza,” added the spokesperson ."
Much of the site has been cleared in advance of any building works starting, with the late 1800s Sextant bar – which was not a protected structure - demolished in August of last year.
When requesting further information last summer on JCD’s plans lodged in May, the City Council had asked the developers to address publicly articulated concerns about the Sextant’s demolition, but it has now granted permission for the development – designed by Henry J Lyons architects and London-based Richard Coleman of Citydesigner - to proceed.
Separately a senior Bord Pleanála inspector report had noted “the overall development strategy for the site brings many positive conservation impacts including the successful adaptation and reuse of the more significant railway complex buildings. The proposal will also have a major beneficial impact on the remaining industrial character of the architectural conservation area.”.