Re: R & H Hall Development

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Investment now key to docklands success

(Irish Examiner 2 July 2008)

GOVERNMENT, Exchequer and IDA commitment will be needed to secure Cork docklands redevelopment and to provide a counter-balance to the burgeoning Dublin region, according to the developers behind an estimated €2 billion masterplan for a 32-acre site on Cork’s south docks.

Plans were submitted just this week by Origin Enterprises for phase one development of their landbank, the closest renewal site to Cork city centre, 250 yards from City Hall.

John Butler of Origin described their 18 to 20-year phased Port Quarter project as “a robust plan” which was flexible, and which met the city’s future housing and business needs as well as meeting the design requirements of Cork City Council’s recent Local Area Plan.

However, commitment from Government and the IDA, as well as EU approval for special tax incentives which has been sought and is under negotiation, was also needed to underpin the 420 acre docklands’ campus success, said Mr Butler.

Origin’s overall site of 32 acres could accommodate 275,000 sq metres (three million sq ft) of offices and over 1,200 apartments/up to 3,000 residents, along with a neighbourhood centre with shops and other facilities, school, cultural centre in the converted Odlums red-brick building, and up to five open public areas, including a three-acre park backing in the existing public green of Kennedy Park.

The design team for Port Quarter includes Reddy O’Riordan Staehli Architects (RORSA), McCutcheon Mulcahy planning consultants, Arup engineers, Bruce Shaw Partnership QS, Mitchell and Associates landscape consultants, and Savills HOK estate agents.

Only one building, the brick-faced Odlum structure, will be retained, as a cultural centre, but elements of the early 20th Century grain silos such as hoppers will be integrated as internal design features in some of the office building foyers. Several of the proposed new office blocks will be in the shape and scale of the old silos as “memory buildings,” said architect Tom Hegarty of RORSA. He added that the buildings had been designed to open up and frame views as much as possible, with height references taken from the existing grain silos, varying from eight to eleven storeys (52 metres, versus the neighbouring Elysian tower’s completed 81 metre height.)

Residential elements are designed to be as family friendly as possible: to this end, 45 of the first phase’s 165 apartment will be three-beds, some up to 1,500 sq ft, most have dual aspect, with good storage facilities internally and in the basement. Phase one car parking will be provided for 413 cars.

Buildings will be triple glazed, with high insulation and low CO2 demand levels, and some will have green sedum roofs. The 165-unit apartment building to be called One Kennedy Quay will have an internal raised courtyard, and cut-out sections for thru’views.

All buildings will be raised above current road level for flood protection.

Planning consultant Barry Connolly of McCutcheon Mulcahy said an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) had been conducted as part of the planning application, and described Port Quarter as “a quality development for a catalyst site, which corresponds with the city’s own Local Area Plan and outline for the site.” It includes public open space and a waterfront walk designed to tie in with the Council’s aim for a riverside walk from the Mardyke in the west, to the Marina in the east.

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