The Opera Centre

Re: The Opera Centre

Postby Tuborg » Mon May 11, 2009 6:36 pm

CologneMike wrote:Douglas Wallace Architects goes into liquidation

That’s not helpful . . . . :(


I think this project is cursed, its just destined never to happen!

Who's going to take care of the inevitable design tweaks that the ABP report is going to order?

Anyway, heres another line on the Opera Centre. I suppose we shouldn't really be surprised!:rolleyes:

Anglo owns 50% stake in stalled Limerick scheme (Sunday Business Post)

By Richard Curran

Anglo Irish Bank has emerged as a 50 per cent shareholder in a stalled €350million shopping centre development in Limerick city centre. Anglo acquired the stake in Regeneration Developments, the company behind the proposed Opera Centre in Limerick.

Accounts recently filed for the company show that, at the end of 2007, it had bank borrowings of €81million,payable within one year.

The loans were given by Bank of Ireland, and Anglo was not a banker to the project.

Anglo declined to say how much it paid for the stake. The three property developers behind the project, who are also clients of Anglo, are David Courtney, Jerry O’Reilly and Terry Sweeney.

Accounts for Regeneration Developments show the company’s borrowings were secured on properties on the site, options on further properties and personal guarantees from the three, totalling €50 million.

The company accounts valued the site and development for the Limerick centre at €89 million at the end of 2007. It had further investments valued at €19.6 million, but creditors falling due within one year totalling €109million.

The auditors did not qualify the accounts but drew attention to the carrying value of the company’s investments, saying the economic outlook and property downturn ‘‘creates an uncertainty about the appropriateness of the carrying value of the investment and stock’’.

Even valuing total assets at €106 million, the directors said that the company had net current liabilities of €19.6 million and ‘‘limited income’’ at the end of December 2007. Anglo Irish acquired its stake in the venture on December 21, 2007.

Industry sources said that the now nationalised bank acquired its share with a view to selling it on to private clients, but that never happened.

The project, which would have been the biggest shopping development in the mid-west, was granted planning permission last September, but is awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála decision. It had the full backing of Limerick City Council but, in the current environment, it seems highly unlikely the project will go ahead.

Courtney, Sweeney and O’Reilly bought the venture from a group of developers in February 2007 and sold half of it to Anglo at the end of that year. None of the directors could be contacted for comment, and Anglo Irish declined to answer any queries other than to confirm its 50 per cent shareholding.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby dave123 » Tue May 12, 2009 2:54 pm

Well its the people of Limericks fault, for leaving it in the balance. The second reapplication was the second chance. It was improved drastically. Your not going to get a colluseam. But I know you all have high standards. But you have to remember Limerick needs a central shopping hub. Right now its just leff the way it is. I dont know why kind of a shopping mall that would retain every single old building that is just not realistic. Ive said this before and now I'm saying it again.

May you all learn.

If you werent happy with the design, I didnt see any of you put up your money to improve this run down part of town.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby CologneMike » Tue May 12, 2009 7:33 pm

Developers say Opera Centre will go ahead (Limerick Leader)


By Anne Sheridan

THE developers behind the €350m Opera Centre have said the fact that Anglo Irish Bank has a 50 per cent share in the project is "irrelevant" as to whether it goes ahead.

A spokesperson for the company added that claims that the project may not get off the ground due to the financial backing of the troubled, nationalised bank is a "red herring."

It has emerged that Anglo Irish Bank acquired its stake in the venture on December 2007, with a view to selling it on to private clients, but that never happened.

The planning application is currently before An Bord Pleanala for a second time, and Regeneration Developments, the company behind the project, are hopeful of a positive outcome in June.

"Regeneration Developments want the project to go ahead and are continuing to work on it.

"They purchased the project from the original developers with a view to building it. It will be built if we get planning, get anchor tenants and other major tenants, and if a bank - it doesn't have to be an Irish bank - is prepared to fund the commercial developments," said a spokesperson for the company.

Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, said he was "quite perturbed" to learn of the bank's stake in the retail development, which is expected to be "Limerick's shopping mecca" pending planning permission.

"It's certainly a problem. I'd prefer if they didn't own the shares. It came as a complete surprise. I never knew they were so immersed in the property game, ;) but I wouldn't despair completely," said Minister O'Dea.

He said the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan is expected to set up an interim National Assets Management Agency, prior to receiving full legislation, and they may become involved with the development in Limerick. "They will certainly try to make that workable. So there is light at the end of the tunnel," he added.

Minister O'Dea added that he hopes that project will get the go-ahead in the coming months. "It's a fabulous project and the place looks terrible at the moment. Dereliction is creeping in."

If the plans receive permission, the Mid-West's largest retail centre is expected to create 275 jobs during the construction phase and another 800 full and part time jobs will be created once the centre is open and trading.

A decision on the revised plans is expected next month, after Regeneration Developments submitted revised drawings for the project two weeks ago.

An exact decision date has not been confirmed by An Bord Pleanala, but those involved in the project expect that it will be made in the summer months.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby Tuborg » Tue May 12, 2009 10:27 pm

dave123 wrote:Well its the people of Limericks fault, for leaving it in the balance. The second reapplication was the second chance. It was improved drastically. Your not going to get a colluseam. But I know you all have high standards. But you have to remember Limerick needs a central shopping hub. Right now its just leff the way it is. I dont know why kind of a shopping mall that would retain every single old building that is just not realistic. Ive said this before and now I'm saying it again.

May you all learn.

If you werent happy with the design, I didnt see any of you put up your money to improve this run down part of town.


You're talking absolute nonsense as per usual!

The "people of Limerick" who had the intelligence to see beyond a couple of glossy CGI's:rolleyes:, to speak out against the substandard design and lodge an appeal, should be applauded for actually caring about their city. Its thanks to them that we've avoided another enormous wound being inflicted upon the city centre!


CologneMike wrote:Developers say Opera Centre will go ahead (Limerick Leader)

A decision on the revised plans is expected next month, after Regeneration Developments submitted revised drawings for the project two weeks ago.



Id love to know what these "revised drawings" contain! Realistically though, this project needs a pretty comprehensive redesign, theres simply too many shortcomings in the current proposal!
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby CologneMike » Tue May 12, 2009 10:56 pm

Tuborg wrote:Id love to know what these "revised drawings" contain! Realistically though, this project needs a pretty comprehensive redesign, theres simply too many shortcomings in the current proposal!


Personally I would expect the “same conditions” to be re-applied as in the first approval and similar protective conditions for the Quin building and the former Town Hall.

The Bank Place in layout is nothing but a throw back to the days where the city showed it’s arse to the river.

The entrance / exit for deliveries must be moved to Michael Street (i.e. Former Work Space Building).

Maybe they could instead move the entrance / exit for cars to the opposite side of Michael Street and access to the underground car park per tunnel.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby Tuborg » Wed May 13, 2009 11:04 pm

CologneMike wrote:Personally I would expect the “same conditions” to be re-applied as in the first approval and similar protective conditions for the Quin building and the former Town Hall.

The Bank Place in layout is nothing but a throw back to the days where the city showed it’s arse to the river.

The entrance / exit for deliveries must be moved to Michael Street (i.e. Former Work Space Building).

Maybe they could instead move the entrance / exit for cars to the opposite side of Michael Street and access to the underground car park per tunnel.


Regeneration Developments would have us believe that Bank Place will be transformed into some sort of idyllic plaza area when in reality there will be a service road ploughing through it!

The internal configuration of the complex will also have to be improved. You simply cant have one of the "landmark entrances" opening onto some department store!

I believe the developers argument against using Michael Street for deliveries etc is that it is too narrow for large trucks and access to the basement via a ramp would be difficult.

Realistically though, if a proper delivery strategy could be agreed, traffic circulation on Michael Street could be managed effectively?

I also hope ABP lays down strict conditions in relation to the Granary as the proposed intervention seems pretty unsympathetic to me anyway!

Attached; Proposed Michael Street elevation.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby jimg » Thu May 14, 2009 1:01 am

If I were to be honest I'd have to admit that I hope that this project flounders. What is planned is possibly the worst imaginable. It would, if realised, add another zombie block of faceless dead streetscape to the core of Limerick just as Arthur's Quay and Sarsfield Dunne's have. Sorry, I can't find a redeeming feature in those plans.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby gunter » Thu May 14, 2009 9:28 am

CologneMike wrote:A decision on the revised plans is expected next month, after Regeneration Developments submitted revised drawings for the project two weeks ago.


Is there any way of finding out what these revised drawings show, is it a comprehensive re-design, or just a bit of tinkering around?

Tuborg wrote:I also hope ABP lays down strict conditions in relation to the Granary as the proposed intervention seems pretty unsympathetic to me anyway!


Completely agree with Tuborg, that was one of the more disappointing aspects of the proposal. The opportunity to integrate the retained street-front buildings on the perimeter of the block into the internal 'streetscape' / circulation routes of the shopping centre, as has been done to great effect elsewhere, was completely missed. This seems particularly unfortunate in the case of the Granary building.

Tuborg wrote:Id love to know what these "revised drawings" contain!


Again, there must be some way of finding this out, is there no public entitlement to see such a submission, even if there's no ABP mechanism for further commenting on it?
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby CologneMike » Fri May 15, 2009 8:31 pm

Bank Place ~ Granary ~ Truck Service Yard Entrance

I would imagine the Architects got the remit from Regeneration Ltd. (Developer) to maximise floor space, car parking space etc, etc. Especially as the underground car parking decks (orange) and the truck service yard (blue) affect four floor levels.

But the solution to place the underground delivery entrance in front of the main opening of the Granary Warehouse is a very poor one.

In my opinion . . . .

  • It disfigures the front façade of the Granary on Bank Place.
  • It cuts off access to main entrance to the Granary Building.
  • It would have a negative effect on Bank Place as a Plaza.
  • Bank Place would have a “rear building” feel to it.
  • It would discourage footfall developing here.


In my opinion by moving the delivery entrance next to the underground car park entrance on Michael Street would be a far better solution.


It is amazing that issues like the Granary are not raised by the city councillors into the public domain. :(
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby jdivision » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:19 pm

There's a further information notice in on this in the Irish Times today. Seems a number of the buildings scheduled for demolition will be retained, or at least have their facades retained. Somebody more familiar with Limerick than I am will probably be able to say more on it.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby gunter » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:58 pm

jdivision wrote:There's a further information notice in on this in the Irish Times today.


Well spotted jdivision.

ImageImage

On the face of it, this looks like a huge step in the right direction.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby Tuborg » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:44 pm

Thanks for the scan gunter, I didnt see the Times today and couldn't find it online either.

It looks like Regeneration Developments have finally come to their senses anyway. They've amended much of the elements we've been banging on about here for ages! Its pretty obvious now that ABP let it be known that the project wouldn't have had much chance of proceeding in its previous form!

Looking at the details, the retention of additional buildings on Rutland Street/Patrick Street along with the salvation of Ellen Street, are massive improvements. The relocation of the service entrance from Bank Place to Michael Street is also a hugely positive move!
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby reddy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:28 am

Good stuff. God its refreshing to see the planning system have a positive impact on a development.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby gunter » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:37 am

Tuborg wrote:. . . Its pretty obvious now that ABP let it be known that the project wouldn't have had much chance of proceeding in its previous form!


You sometimes suspect that this is what happens, but unless the Bord actually write to the applicants seeking specific further information, I thought they were precluded from giving tips and pointers!

This could be a genuine change of heart on the part of the developers, or more likely, a bit of belated sound advice from their architects (who are the architects now, do we know? wasn't it originally Douglas Wallace?).

Anyway, top marks to whoever is responsible and, as reddy said, it's nice to see the system working once in a while . . . and look! the sun has come out:)
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby KeepAnEyeOnBob » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:38 am

Good news but I hope something is done soon - the buildings are getting worse by the week! Mind you they aren't the only ones, even reasonably cleaned up looking Georgian buildings on the recently regenerated Thomas St. have ever-larger plants growing out of the brickwork - just noticed it recently. Surely even weedkiller might help (or would it eat away at the building?)
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby Tuborg » Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:13 pm

gunter wrote:You sometimes suspect that this is what happens, but unless the Bord actually write to the applicants seeking specific further information, I thought they were precluded from giving tips and pointers!

This could be a genuine change of heart on the part of the developers, or more likely, a bit of belated sound advice from their architects (who are the architects now, do we know? wasn't it originally Douglas Wallace?).



Apparently the board expressed "serious concerns" about the project a couple of months back and requested "revised drawings". Presumably this related to the loss of Georgian building stock and probably issues with the Granary aswell.

Its a joke that we cant find out for sure what ABP requested or the exact nature of the revisions. All this information should be available on their website but unfortunately its fairly hopeless!
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby dave123 » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:51 pm

Finally this is great stuff. When are they going to start building it. Could it be autumn. Its amazing how far it has come. If you think about it. What other Shopping centre's could you compare this development to in this country. There is no shopping centre in Ireland that manages to to retain most of the old into the new in such an unique way. I think this is going to be very successful. Limerick will become a magnet for shoppers. This will bring much needed life into the heart of the city once again. this will attract other retailers to locate in the city rather than on the doughnut edges.

I'm proud that everyone is working together now, and it seems that people are communicating in the right way as we can now see.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby KeepAnEyeOnBob » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:04 am

dave123 wrote:What other Shopping centre's could you compare this development to in this country. There is no shopping centre in Ireland that manages to to retain most of the old into the new in such an unique way.


I still think it's just like a more modern and larger scale version of Arthur's Quay. After all that development surrounds some old streetfront too.

I mean even the location means it's very little differentiation in my mind - I can't see it adding much more to the city either.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby gunter » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:46 am

KeepAnEyeOnBob wrote:I still think it's just like a more modern and larger scale version of Arthur's Quay. . . I can't see it adding much more to the city either.


Surely it much more important than that!

The whole dilemma with this scheme was that people, who care about reinforcing the city centre, want to see uses like this located where they belong - in the city centre, but not at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of demolishing almost everything in sight.

The breakthrough with this revised scheme (as described in the text anyway) is that they appear to have found a way to accommodate, both a fancy new shopping centre, and a regeneration of the existing building stock, in the one scheme.

OK, there might still be a bit too much 'facade retention' as opposed to 'building conservation' in it and it could all turn into a Limerick version of Marks & Spencers' Duke St. re-make, but it's still a dramatic advance on what it was going to be.

Had the scheme been refused, due the carnage of historic structures and streetscapes, it would have reinforced the false perception that mega development, like fancy new shopping centres, are incompatible with city centre locations, and incompatible with conservation!

That could have been almost as devastating an outcome as permitting the development and bulldozing the block!

We don't often get good news, can we not just enjoy it for a few days?
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby vkid » Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:50 pm

dave123 wrote:What other Shopping centre's could you compare this development to in this country. e.


The only one that is slightly similar to me is The Eyre Square s.c in Galway...although lets hope it turns out better than that but the idea is similar. Couple of anchor tenants, lots of smaller units etc..
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby dave123 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:35 pm

vkid wrote:The only one that is slightly similar to me is The Eyre Square s.c in Galway...although lets hope it turns out better than that but the idea is similar. Couple of anchor tenants, lots of smaller units etc..


Opera centre is like two or three times bigger and retains far more older architeture into the new Shopping mall. I'm not to sure if Eyre sq shopping centre retains this factor. Also I much prefer these type of inner city malls than out of town malls imo.

I'm not a shopper as such, but its seems more logical to have a shopping heart in the centre of the city rather than sprawling warehouses around the city, leaving the city like a ghostown.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:18 am

dave123 wrote:Opera centre is like two or three times bigger and retains far more older architeture into the new Shopping mall. I'm not to sure if Eyre sq shopping centre retains this factor. Also I much prefer these type of inner city malls than out of town malls imo.

I'm not a shopper as such, but its seems more logical to have a shopping heart in the centre of the city rather than sprawling warehouses around the city, leaving the city like a ghostown.


I don't think you're going to bring people into the city to go to a shopping centre, when there are already shopping centre all over the outskirts. That's the big problem here, it's being seen as a lynchpin of Limerick's future success. But in order to be truly successful and vibrant, Limerick has to give people what they can't get anywhere else. Yet the Crescent shopping centre opens on Thursday and Friday nights, and on Sundays which are among the busiest times for shopping, while the city becomes a ghost town.

Limerick needs to develop particular city centre attractions to thrive - like quality eateries, pubs, specialist shops, and of course extra-curricular activities. The very least it needs for starters is a cinema, which being in proximity to many pubs and restaurants would provide a unique appeal. And then it needs to expand opening hours. I think there's nothing that would increase the buzz than changing general opening hours to 12pm-9pm every day, if not later. You'd be amazed how many people there are who'd like to be able to go to a coffee shop at 11pm.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby dave123 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:31 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:I don't think you're going to bring people into the city to go to a shopping centre, when there are already shopping centre all over the outskirts. That's the big problem here, it's being seen as a lynchpin of Limerick's future success. But in order to be truly successful and vibrant, Limerick has to give people what they can't get anywhere else. Yet the Crescent shopping centre opens on Thursday and Friday nights, and on Sundays which are among the busiest times for shopping, while the city becomes a ghost town.

Limerick needs to develop particular city centre attractions to thrive - like quality eateries, pubs, specialist shops, and of course extra-curricular activities. The very least it needs for starters is a cinema, which being in proximity to many pubs and restaurants would provide a unique appeal. And then it needs to expand opening hours. I think there's nothing that would increase the buzz than changing general opening hours to 12pm-9pm every day, if not later. You'd be amazed how many people there are who'd like to be able to go to a coffee shop at 11pm.



But the Opera will work like what Stephens green does for Dublin. It will pull footfall, and tourist no matter what day of the week. Also since I'm in the catchment of Limerick, I would rather use the Opera centre than use the sprawlling retaril houses. Because

[
  • Pedestiran friendly
  • all shoips under one roof
  • underground car parking
  • citry centre amenties close by
  • restaurants close by
  • greater variety of shops
  • and its gives me the opportunity to shop more out of the city like going to other shops closeby
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:54 am

Ok, well that's a point. But I think you could further stress its uniqueness by making it a less boring plan. We have all these Georgian buildings and historic laneways and the like; wouldn't it be a lot better if they did a Powerscourt kind of thing where you stress the historical fabric, and you have a series of covered laneways and arcades giving the whole scheme a sense of being a little more upmarket?

I actually think one of the most important things they could do in Limerick to bring people into the city is to focus on aesthetic issues. I thought the city development plan was a great vision. Look how many more people frequent Thomas Street and Bedford Row now. If they focused on details like pavement, appropriate windows, lampposts, wires on buildings, and shopfronts, then Limerick could have a sense of quaintness which would draw people in. I mean it almost makes me cry to compare the potential of William Street with its reality. If you dealt with all the above issues on this street, you could have a completely unique and beautiful Georgian commercial street that people would specifically come to Limerick to visit.
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Re: The Opera Centre

Postby KeepAnEyeOnBob » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:32 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:I actually think one of the most important things they could do in Limerick to bring people into the city is to focus on aesthetic issues. I thought the city development plan was a great vision. Look how many more people frequent Thomas Street and Bedford Row now. If they focused on details like pavement, appropriate windows, lampposts, wires on buildings, and shopfronts, then Limerick could have a sense of quaintness which would draw people in. I mean it almost makes me cry to compare the potential of William Street with its reality. If you dealt with all the above issues on this street, you could have a completely unique and beautiful Georgian commercial street that people would specifically come to Limerick to visit.


Politically unpopular, but I would suggest the most significant factor in Thomas St./Bedford Row isn't the nice paving, lighting, trees or new developments - it's scrapping traffic and on-street parking.
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