Re: Re: The Opera Centre
How the State became de facto shopping centre owners (Irish Times)
ANGLO IRISH BANKâ€™S stake in the Opera Centre means that its future is now entwined with that of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).
Interests held by the nationalised bank in completed, half-finished and mooted retail projects will be part of the â‚¬77 billion in property, land and development loans being transferred to Nama.
Any retail schemes that were financed by AIB and Bank of Ireland in recent years could also end up in the Nama pot â€“ but there are no official statistics on the value of retail-related debt that will now be dealing with a State agency as its lender.
Uncompleted schemes such as the â‚¬350 million Opera Centre â€“ the other 50 per cent of which is owned by developers Jerry Oâ€™Reilly, Terry Sweeney and David Courtney â€“ are part of the â‚¬46 billion of Nama loans that donâ€™t currently produce any income from tenants.
Some of these projects will not proceed as they no longer make commercial sense. Some â€œmay be viable of alternative uses or alternative project timescales are consideredâ€, the Nama business plan states. But it is likely that Nama will try to maximise its regular cash income, which could mean borrowing more to complete unfinished shopping malls.
Any decision on schemes such as the Opera Centre will have to be taken in the context of a more downcast consumer economy.
Tom Mackey, Limerickâ€™s city manager, is adamant that the Opera Centre will eventually â€œbring significant retail-led regeneration to Limerickâ€™s city centreâ€, as the original brochure claimed, and that it wonâ€™t be one of those â€œsounded like a good idea at the timeâ€ schemes that never happens.
â€œThat will happen in smaller commuter towns, but Limerick is the third city in the country. It is inevitable that if you have a major retail space, it will be developed,â€ says Mackey.