Re: Re: The Opera Centre
I don’t think a shopping proposal on the scale that was envisaged was ever viable. It would have drawn business’ and customers away from the existing retail core and would have had an overall negative impact on the city centre. In my opinion, had this gone ahead and filled all of the units then people would have had little reason to go anywhere in the city.
I think you are overestimating the extent of the so called retail core if that’s even an appropriate term to use given the paucity of the current offering. Realistically Limericks shopping district currently stretches from the O’Connell Street/Roches Street junction down as far as Denmark Street along with some of the adjoining streets and laneways. Hardly what you would call expansive!
If you recall, up until 5 or so years ago Rutland Street and Lower Patrick Street were lined with a variety of businesses; retail stores, cafes etc before the misguided decision to remove the occupants before redevelopment plans were even finalised. So this portion of the city centre was/is very much part of the commercial zone.
In reality though the quality of Limericks retail line-up has evolved disappointingly since the Cruises Street project opened over 20 years ago now. William Street for example never capitalised on the momentum created along with the increased footfall in its vicinity and the opportunity to freshen up the street was lost. It has stagnated at best since.
Similarly with O’Connell Street we saw only modest investment in retail premises even throughout the excesses of the “boom” years. The former Sony centre outlet has been vacant and up for sale for a number of years at this stage. The former Fergusons chemist across the street likewise. The calibre of many businesses on the street currently is poor and significant renovation and possibly amalgamation of properties is needed to attract new, higher quality tenants. There’s no sign that this is forthcoming and you can’t exactly usurp the existing occupants either.
It seems like I’m disagreeing with everything you say but I’m not sure that the city needs another street, not when we already have so many dead streets in the city. Also I think developments like Opera Lane and City Central really detract from a city. All of the shopfronts look the same and there is no variety. It’s almost like a shopping centre.
You might not be a fan but in fairness that City Central development along with the pedestrianisation scheme completely revitalised Bedford Row. It brought high quality retail and residential accommodation along with a five star hotel to the city centre on what was a neglected and decaying site. Do you remember how dingy it looked previously? Take a look at the attachments below. :thumbdown:
The project also attracted the first significant batch of retailers in to the city centre for many years, most of them not represented in Limerick previously. All the units are fully let too. It’s clear that in order to entice quality brands in to the city centre accommodation of an appropriate size and standard is required. I believe a project similar to that on Bedford Row could work well for the opera centre site. By bringing in fresh blood and more footfall one would hope that it would provide a knock-on benefit to the city centre at large.
What I would like to see in the site is loads of modern office space. If you consider that that any decent sized company wanting to set up in the city would probably need to build their own office building first, a large quantity of good quality office space would be a major asset. I don’t believe it should be used for retail as there are plenty of sites nearer to the core that have been identified in the most recent city development plan that are suitable for large scale developments.
I’m not convinced that the opera site is best suited to a large office development. Sure it might bring further employment in to town but large scale office blocks generally provide quite a dead, dull street presence and won’t exactly draw people in to the city except for the employees obviously. An element of office space could of course be accommodated but I wouldn’t like to see the majority of the site given over to it.
There are other locations that are more suitable for this purpose. The half built GPO/hanging gardens development which is in NAMA was to contain a large amount of office space over 6 floors or so. It should be a priority to have this completed at the earliest opportunity. The former ESB building and eventually Henry Street Garda headquarters provide another large scale redevelopment opportunity on the quays along with the portion of the docklands that SFPA are looking to offload. A significant amount of office space is currently vacant in the building at the corner of Thomas Street/Catherine Street as well.
A master plan for the future development of the entire city has been commissioned and is due for publication and I think any decisions on the site before this is published would have been grossly negligent of the council.
I admire you optimism but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’ve lost count of the number of glossy city centre strategies and development plans that have been released over the years. They’re hardly worth the paper they’re printed on. This will simply be a regurgitation of the same aspirational spiel which is churned out endlessly and that the City Council have neither the ability nor the will to follow through on!