Cork Docklands project swept down River Lee!
By Archon Saturday January 2nd, 2010
AH, dearie me! The two billion euro plan to build a town the size of Kilkenny in the dockland area of Cork has been swept down the swanee, or to be more precise, down the Lee. It turned out to be a shadow without substance, an optical illusion, and of such stuff as dreams are made of!
The Docklands project was to be one of the biggest high-density urban developments in Ireland, housing 20,000 residents and employing 25,000 people.
Tower blocks situated on the Centre Park Road, Kennedy Road and the South Docklands Quay-side were intended to change the city skyline and surpass Dublin. Cork would become one of the most attractive locations for investment in Europe. At least, thatâ€™s what the developers said.
Planners, politicos and property tycoons salivated at the thought of constructing offices, hotels, shops, apartments, a university, a Sydney Harbour-style cultural centre, leisure facilities, parks, public spaces, pedestrian routes, a new marina, and a public transport system that included a railway, a railway station and a bus station. Oh, and two new bridges were to link the city to the docklands area.
MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
The brains behind the scheme were the Tedcastle Group and Howard Holdings, whose CEO, Greg Coughlan from Ballydehob, said two years ago: â€œDevelopment interests were attracted to locations where there was an air of making things happenâ€.
And, by gum, things were certainly going to happen in Cork although Greg also warned that serial objectors threatened the gigantic project.
He neednâ€™t have worried. As with the great property plans of others, Gregâ€™s dream took a nosedive, thanks to the thieving bankers, FF stupidity, economic meltdown, etc., etc.
To make matters worse, the Fianna Fail crowd never had much faith in the project -perhaps because Owen Oâ€™Callaghan (Mickey and Battoâ€™s butty), was always skeptical about the project and didnâ€™t sink any of his cash into it.
Not so Greg Coughlan who paid nearly â‚¬30 million in 2005 for the 12-acre Ford factory site and â‚¬10 million for a half-acre site next to City Hall only to see the brave new world vaporising before his eyes.
With the crash, the buyers queuing to see the plans for the 6,000 apartments disappeared. To cap it all, Howard Holdings' jewel in the crown, Coventry Airport, for which it paid fifteen million smackers three years ago, shut its gates forever.
NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Indeed, two of Howard Holdings whiz kids have moved on to a new outfit, Clowater Investments, which will manage many of the Howard assets and sites that were previously handled by Anglo Irish Bank.
Then, Brian Lenihan put the nail in the coffin by his failure to make any mention of the Docklands project in his budget speech. He said nothing about tax incentives, or grants for preliminary work and nothing to convince shareholders or investors that the plan was going ahead.
Even the novice TD and ex-RTE prophet of doom, George Lee, got in on the act. During a visit to Cork, he declared the focus should shift from seeking Government funding, presumably on the basis that the developers wouldnâ€™t get any. (He was lucky not to be lynched by Cork Fine Gael for whom the Docklands was their pet project).
Yet, hope springs eternal for Leesiders. The City Council now asserts that approximately 15% of the Docklands plan will go ahead, even without the new bridges or roads being put in place or, for that matter, without raising the ground level of the entire area to alleviate flooding.
The Council points to the fact that planning permission already has been granted for a swathe of apartments, offices, bars, restaurants and a hotel. Their confidence, however, has to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt because it's based on the premise that one day the economy will pick up, things will change and the masses will stream towards the Marina, mad keen to live in the new shiny apartments.
When the economy picks up, the thinking goes, everything again will be bathed in warm golden Leeside sunlight, just as in the days of wine and roses.
In the meantime, Corkonians have been left scratching their heads, wondering what remains of their phantom city. The answer is simple: nothing but a foolâ€™s paradise, a cock and bull story and the mess left over from other people getting rich (and some very poor) while building castles in the air! http://www.southernstar.ie/article.php?id=1723