Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?

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€300 million development could transform Upper William Street Keeping an eye on Business

Business Limerick Magazine: Link

A Limerick developer has placed a submission of intent with Limerick City Council for a major E300 million mixed retail, commercial and residential development for Upper William Street which could completely transform the area. The submission was prepared by Hughes Rowan & Associates, Chartered Town Planning Consultants on behalf of O’Callaghan Enterprises of Upper William Street in response to the City Strategy Issues Paper 2007.

The proposed project involves redeveloping two key blocks of land to the northeast and south-west of Upper William Street. Existing buildings will be demolished to provide for an architecturally designed building of significant scale and mass that satisfactorily assimilates into the existing streetscape. The aim is to link both sides of Upper William Street with an urban plaza/pedestrian priority area. This plaza will form the focus of activity in the area and will influence the commercial uses on the ground floor.

It is envisaged that a 5/8 storey building will be accommodated on the larger of the two sites on the south-western side of Upper William Street providing for basement/multi- storey car parking onto Sexton Street; retail and commercial uses on the ground floor and self-contained own door town houses on the upper floor.

It is proposed that the site on the northeastern side of the street will accommodate a large open market building similar in stature to the English Market in Cork city. It is considered that the existing indigenous business currently operating successfully in Upper William Street will continue to operate in this new purpose built building including delicatessens, butchers, specialty food and fishmongers. This ‘English Market’ has the potential to attract residents and visitors to a unique shopping experience not provided for elsewhere in the city and yet will continue to support and encourage the indigenous shopping business that is so successful in this part of the city. The project could be completed over a five year period.

Already in control of a number of properties on both sides of Upper William Street and on the southern side of Gerald Griffin Street, O’Callaghan Enterprises is currently in discussion with a number of adjoining property owners. The objective is to acquire the block of property on both sides of William Street. While O’Callaghan enterprises is confident that it can negotiate with adjoining landowners and accumulate the significant land bank required to facilitate the proposed development, assistance may be required from the City Council to finalise the packaging of a site of adequate size and shape.

The development will contribute to the regeneration and renaissance of Upper William Street providing for a unique commercial venture that will appeal to the resident and visitor alike. For this development to be realised according to the submission Limerick City Council has a key role to play in the control and movement of traffic in the area. ‘The pattern and movement of traffic will dictate the overall development of these key sites and will influence the acceptability or otherwise of an urban space/plaza on Upper William Street. Sexton Street is currently narrow and congested and the benefit of widening this street must be considered. The widening of Sexton Street could be incorporated into the overall development proposal, but the assistance of Limerick City Council in the acquisition of properties facing onto Sexton Street would be required to realise this ambition’.

Adds the submission: ‘it is respectfully requested that the City Council in providing for the orbital route and considering key linkages into the city, has regard to this development proposal and the impact of current and proposed traffic circulation in the area. ‘This project is ambitious and can be realised in a private capacity. However, the timely implementation of such a key project is dependent on the measures promoted in the city centre strategy to release strategic blocks of land whether they be financial or otherwise’.

The developer states that this initiative by Limerick City Council is very much welcomed and it is considered that the City Council are approaching the future regeneration of the city centre from an appropriate ‘bottom-up’ approach. This ‘bottomup’ approach will hopefully result in the identification of a number of practical key
projects in the city that can be supported by national and local administration through a number of measures including possible financial, legislative and administrative powers.

The purpose of the O’Callaghan Enterprises submission is to identify a significant and dynamic project for Limerick City that will not only change the face of the public realm in Upper William Street, but the lives of the citizens and will achieve sustainable and economic wellbeing. ‘It is submitted to the Council that this project can be achieved, but it needs the support of key stakeholders, such as Limerick City Council, to be achieved in a timely and orderly manner. It is on this basis that this submission is formulated. The overall vision of the project is ‘to breathe new life including retail, commercial and social activity into Upper William Street; to enhance the existing quality of life in the area and to ensure a high quality and permeable public realm merging business and street life together’.

The overall vision for the area seeks to address three of the five concerns highlighted by citizens and visitors to the city and detailed in the Issues Paper published by Limerick City Council including easily accessible city centre parking; pedestrian friendly areas and pedestrian only areas and enhanced retail and leisure opportunity in the city centre. Specifically, it is noted that the city centre strategy seeks to provide an additional 1,500 car parking spaces in the city; that it seeks the pedestrianisation of William Street; that it seeks the creation of a central civic space/plaza and that it seeks to provide multi- functional buildings. The proposed project will directly complement the overall direction of the city centre strategy as it seeks to provide for all those key elements suggest the submission.

Developer Tom O’Callaghan, a native of Kildysart, Co. Clare and now living in Ennis told Business Limerick: ‘if the submission is accepted by the City Council we will then submit a planning application for the project which will mean the total transformation of Upper William Street’. O’Callaghan Enterprises founded in 2003 by Tom O’Callaghan currently employs 60 people. While the company has a diverse interest in the city, its primary aim is to seek the regeneration and redevelopment of the Upper William and Gerald Griffin Street areas of Limerick city. The company currently owns and operates a number of businesses and residential properties in the area including Alltan and Beauty, William Street Post Office, Tom’s Bar and Bistro, O’Callaghan Master Butchers and William Street Dry Cleaners. Ladbrokes, the Centra Store and Subway are also owned by O’Callaghan Enterprises and are currently leased out.

Said Tom O’Callaghan: ‘it is our objective to invest in existing businesses and properties in the Upper William Street and Gerald Griffin Street area. The objective is to maintain an active and vibrant streetscape to sustain and contribute to the daily activity and life in this area of the city while accumulating a strategic land bank. This has been a fundamental core tenet of the company and is in contrast to other development groups who acquire property and leave it vacant over long periods pending redevelopment’.

Continued Tom O’Callaghan: ‘I have achieved what I have done in ten years with the full support of Limerick City Council as without the Council’s support nothing can be achieved. I believe that working with people solves problems and also taking into account the public’s opinion. So that is why I emphasise the need to discuss with officials every aspect of the project. ‘In this proposed project we are trying to stop the scenario where you shut down at six o’clock. We want to create a commercial, retail and residential environment that will keep people in the city. ‘I see this as an opportunity for everyone. William Street was the trading street in the 1940s and now with the full support of the City Council our project can be a reality in five years. ‘There is a question mark hanging over the construction industry at present with a recession possibly looming. This project if given the go-ahead will employ hundreds of people over that period’ he pointed out.

He suggested that the University of Limerick Architectural College could get involved in the project ‘with the young minds of the future coming up with ideas. We see the whole project as a community project and let us learn from the mistakes of other cities in Europe’.

Tom O’Callaghan considers Limerick is a city ‘crying out to be properly developed’. He declared: ‘we are on the doorstep of an international airport at Shannon – lets get the people into our city. The new tunnel will be coming onstream and the city has its new ring roads not to mention the new hotel chains that have located here’. He concluded: ‘we see this new challenging proposed development venture as a community project which will further enhance Limerick’s status as a thriving commercial and cultural centre’.

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