Cork is a city on the up heading into 2016

IT jumps out of the Price Register as a €52 million sale for its residential element alone - Cork’s Elysian Tower has been a highly-visible barometer in both regional and national terms of hopes in boom times, dashed ambitions in the economic collapse, all the while personifying the ups, downs and now the ups once more.

Still the tallest building in the Republic, it’s finally set for full occupancy and for its apartments’ lights to go on from top to bottom from 2016, almost a decade after it was constructed.

Following a tumultuous year for its developers O’Flynn Construction, and its remarkable ‘coming to terms’ with venture funds giant Blackstone who acquired the group’s loans from Nama, the vast bulk of the 214 residential units ranged around an acre of elevated garden are set to be fitted out in the coming months.

O’Flynns, who know the building stem to stern, will carry out the work, on behalf of the complex’s new owners Blackstone, as they get back to their building and development business in Cork, Dublin and beyond.

The Elysian is expected to fill up as rapidly as its units get finished, moving from the unfair title of ‘Idle Tower’ to Idyll Tower, with thousands of new jobs on its doorstep at One Albert Quay, spearheaded by Tyco’s HQ, heading into its final fit-out phase. It’s a stand-out success for Cork city, with more office development expected fast on its trail, in the city and Mahon. After major battles, accommodations have been made, all around, on both literal and metaphorical levels.

Tide Turns

On other fronts too, including employment, constructionand infrastructure, Cork is getting back into gear after years of moribund activity. Dublin is back to boom-time talk, and while the gap between the Capital and other Irish cities will continue to widen, at least other main cities have momentum once more, and wind in their sails.

On the macro level, the Bord Pleanala grant of planning for Port of Cork’s move downriver and expansion to Ringaskiddy (and, partly to Marino Point too) will be of major consequence from 2018, facilitating agri-business growth and freeing up high-value sites in the city’s quays for offices, hotels and apartments.

Cork is a city on the up heading into 2016

It won’t be the over-arching and grandiose Dockland plans of the early 2000s, but development will be facilitated, with some remarkable sites such as Port of Cork’s bonded warehouses (above) and own classic, limestone offices coming up for grabs.

Expect rapid recovery movement too on Cork’s retail fronts in Wilton (in the throes of a sale to new owners), and all along Patrick Street currently from Merchant Wuay through Penne3y to the Grand Parade (see also p12), and on sporting facilities (Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s redevelopment, into 2016) transport (Kent Station being reoriented and a site at Horgans’ Quay up for sale), as well as further investment in offices, hospitals (Bon Secours), schools, and hotels.

Once the Events Centre gets over its sadly protracted contractual negotiations, watch out for new hotel development, perhaps on Sullivans Quay, Western Road, and Parnell Place/South Mall.

Tellingly, though, what’s missing from this roll-call of pick-up is a comparable list of suitable and sustainable locations for residential development, for the houses and apartments we so desperatly need to build to accommodate a growing popuation, and resurgent workforce.

Sales Turn

The residential market’s recovery continued with a trickle-down effect in evidence from Dublin.

All six Munster counties had double the level of sales in 2015 as they had seen in the trough of 2010. The Price Register shows 4823 completed sales up to late December in Cork city and county (and 4616 in all of 2014,) vs 2263 back in 2010.

Similarly, Limerick had 1712 recorded sales in 2015 prior to the Christmas break, vs 757 in 2010, and Waterford had 1080, up from 456 in 2010.

Kerry had 1188 sales, up from 2010’s 627, while Tipperary had 1051, up from 551 in 2010. Clare notched up 1010 sales in the last year, double its tally of 507 in 2010.

Twists and Turns

While cities leapt forward, the Wild Atlantic Way proved more than a marketing hook, bringing sales to the seas. Bantry agent Denis Harrington sells along 100 miles of WAW, and bills it as “a simple yet brilliant creation,” spurring interest in hotel sales, in pub reopenings and holiday homes too, on troubled Europe’s wild yet ‘safe’ rocky outpost.


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