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

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Final details on Opera Shopping Centre awaited
By Marie Hobbins
CONFIDENT and proud predictions of a bonanza of benefits to Limerick city were made in City Hall this week about Limerick’s newest shopping centre.

Limerick City Council management and the elected members of the Council were on Monday presented with details of the Opera Centre retail complex which will straddle Patrick Street, Rutland Street, Ellen Street, Bank Place and Michael Street and cover 400,000 square feet of prime city centre space with newly designed and regenerated business premises.

In response to a request from the city planner, Dick Tobin, and his team, for further information on the development, Suneil Sharma, chief executive officer of Regeneration Developments gave a broader outline of the overall development at the Monday meeting. While more precise details are yet to emerge, Mr Sharma said that he had met with the 18 objectors and that it is generally accepted that the principals of the project are “robust and good for the city”.

With a track record of major retail developments in Cork, Dublin and elsewhere in the country notched up, Regeneration Developments says the strategically located major shopping complex will be “an unforgettable Limerick landmark that will create over 1,000 full-time jobs, between 300 and 500 jobs in construction and will bring an estimated 110,000 people into the city centre each week”.

Stressing that there is a requirement for larger retail units, the developers said it is a “myth” that people who go to shopping centres in the suburbs do not frequent the city.

“Research shows that city centre and suburban shopping are two different experiences. You can have a half hour shopping visit in the suburbs but enjoy half a day’s experience in the city centre – there’s plenty of evidence to opt for the city centre experience just because it is the city centre, with all the variety and contrast it has to offer,” said Brian Lambe of Lafferty Project Management.

The British stores, Debenhams and Marks and Spencers, are likely tenants but the identity of the two major anchor stores going in are still to be announced.

Central to the mixed stone/brick/glass and concrete development will be an accurate and sensitive restoration, at an estimated cost of 2.5million euro of 5 Patrick Street in which the internationally acclaimed opera singer, Catherine Hayes lived. When restored as a museum the house will be given over to Limerick Civic Trust, free of charge.

The developers are also confident that its proximity to the Opera Centre will increase the numbers of visitors to the Hunt Museum on Rutland Street.

“We predict an increase of between 300 and 400 per cent to the museum,” said Mr Lambe.

City councillors’ reaction to the presentation is one of overall enthusiasm for the development.

However, a note of caution that a lot of consideration be given to the design of the imposing entrances planned for Bank Place and the junction of Patrick Street/Ellen Street, was voiced by Cllr Kathleen Leddin while Cllr Jim Long said he was glad to learn that old stone and redbrick will be incorporated into the new buildings.

When the development was first announced to City Council some weeks ago, the elected members were emphatic that City Council would take particular care regarding all aspects of this first major retail outlet for the city centre. While they are still awaiting more detailed information, senior planner Dick Tobin is optimistic that provided they receive clear information, they will be in a position to make a decision within four weeks.

“If the information is not clear enough then we may have to ask for more information but at the moment we cannot say how long it will take – that is like asking how long is a piece of string,” he said.

Reaction from leading property developer Michael Parkes who has located his shopping centres in the city’s suburbs is one of wholehearted welcome for the Opera Centre project.

“This is marvellously progressive for the city centre and more of the same are to be welcomed,” he said.

There is a lot of speculation that no.s 4 and 5 rutland street are to be demolished entirely, not even with facade retention!, there appears to be no preservation order attached to these buildings,it seems that these are the only 2 on this terrace not listed as protected structures.As far as i can see all the buildings in this area integrate very well and surely any disruption to this would only result in an erosion of the character of the street. This is a massive multi million euro project and is going to change the face of Limerick forever, i just hope the architecture of the proposed development will enhance and not disfigure this sensitive area, remember the site is bounded by the 18th century granary building and the market area is also close by, i hope we learn from the mistakes of arthurs quay, what we dont want are blank,faceless walls and the usual cheap plasticy features, a bit of imagination wouldnt go astray!

Minister is wary of riverside development
By Marie Hobbins
THE recently announced plans to develop a 30-acre riverside site stretching from the north bank of the river Shannon to Condell Road has been met with the self-confessed scepticism of Limerick’s Minister of State, Tim O’Malley.

He is referring specifically to a consortium’s aim to reclaim the 30-acre river strip between Shannon Bridge and Barrington’s Quay which is currently subjected to flooding at high tide with the erection of a dyke and securing it for residential development along the river bank.

The Progressive Democrat minister who of late has been openly critical of Limerick City Council’s role in the sale of a portion of the People’s Park, said it was most unlikely that such a site could be developed “without intolerable inconvenience and misery being inflicted on the residents of the adjacent Westfields and North Circular Road”.

Details of the plan are still emerging and members of the consortium, River Deep Developments, led by Limerick man, Ned Sheehy of the steel erection firm, ELM are currently acquainting City Hall management with the final points of the project.

But already, two northside councillors are voicing unease regarding any interference with the Westfields Wetlands.

Concerns for traffic management in the area of development are also voiced by Mr O’Malley who says: “One has to ask, where would traffic from this 1.5 billion project be expected to integrate into Limerick’s existing traffic network?

“Does anyone imagine that Condell Road and the Shannon Bridge, already choked to distraction, would be able to accommodate the kind of HGV traffic that this plan would entail,” he queried.

Insisting that it is “grossly unfair to expect the people who already reside in the area to live on a massive building site for the two or three years during which the development is proceeding,” Mr O’Malley said that if, as he expected, the residents will strongly oppose the development, they will have his full support.. Referring to what he termed the recent examples in Limerick that had illustrated the controversial nature of public assets being surrendered or sold to private developers, the Minister said: “There’s no Limerick politician more in favour of enterprise and the growth of local commerce than myself, but equally there’s no Limerick politician who holds a more jaundiced view of public paths, roads and amenities being sold or transferred, to private consortiums – I don’t like to see public assets being disposed of in this fashion.”

Although Mr Sheehy was emphatic when speaking to the Limerick Post that he is particularly sensitive to protecting and enhancing the Westfields Wetlands sanctuary, the reservations expressed by Cllr Kathleen Leddin and Cllr Michael Hourigan for the designated conservation area were reiterated by Minister O’Malley who queried: “How would the ordinary people of Limerick benefit from this development that involved the transfer of one of their city’s most notable environmental assets to a private consortium?

It is pointed out by Cllr Jim Long who has welcomed the proposed riverside development as “the most exciting since Ardnacrusha” that the project could not go ahead without an environmental impact study being submitted to City Council and that sanction to proceed would also be required from the´EU.

It is estimated that the sale of land required for the 1.5billion euro development would net over 25million euro for City Council, not including substantial contribution levies.

Outline plans for the development centre on top-of-the-range residential apartments, a riverside promenade, plaza, marina, hotel and other residential amenities.

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