Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?
Home › Forums › Ireland › well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ? › Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?
Limerick Post 26th march 2006
Docks to be sold to boost port business
By Marie Hobbins
CONCERN is mounting that Limerick Docks will be sold as part of the Shannon Foynes Port Companyâ€™s (SFPC) strategic review of its property portfolio.
The company which aims to be in a position to cater for in excess of 14milion tonnes of traffic by 2010 requires an estimated 100million euro to invest in new and upgraded facilities and the sale of some of its substantial property and land assets would fund the expansion.
Two years ago proposals emerged for a major new docklands development of commercial, residential, recreational and industrial sectors that would generate a huge new rate base for Limerick City Council which has been losing out in new retail park development to Limerick County Council for years now.
All out resistance to the sale of Limerick Docks comes from Cllr Kieran Oâ€™Hanlon who is a member of the board of the SFPC. Voicing his concern for the jobs of the workers at Limerick Docks and also for the companies who use the Docks in a shipping capacity, the councillor told the Limerick Post:
“If a sale of the Docks were to go ahead, Iâ€™d want to be guaranteed that the port company would make a suitable contribution from the proceeds of the sale to the city – Limerick Civic Trust, which does so much to restore and refurbish so many of our civic and historic buildings would be a worthy recipient.â€
The councillor pointed out that the Â£800,000 realised from the sale of No 2 Pery Square (now the Georgian House) which was the former headquarters of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners, went to the port company.
“If any of the Shannon Foynes Port company properties in the Limerick Docklands area are sold, some of the monies realised must be kept in Limerick city,â€ he said.
SFPC – the estuary port authority manages six port installations on the Shannon estuary including Foynes, Limerick and Aughinish.
The Port company owns 45 acres of land in the Limerick Docklands and an additional 35 acres nearby. It also owns land in Foynes and along the Clare shore which will not be up for sale.
The port chief executive, Brian Byrne has confirmed that it has received a certain degree of autonomy from the Government on the deployment of all of its resources including non-core assets and under-performing assets.
While Cllr Oâ€™Hanlon emphasises that Limerick Docks has been performing well and is consistently profitable, Mr Byrne said that any sale of its property could include selling some or all of its land in Limerick Docklands or entering into joint ventures or public/private partnerships to develop its assets.
Stressing that they are embarking on their property review with “an open mindâ€, the port chief said: “any decision made could have a critical effect n the urban landscape of Limerickâ€.
Growing speculation is that the company will sell off the Docks to developers and transfer its shipping business to Foynes which handles 1.6million tonnes of cargo annually, compared to 600,000 tonnes at Limerick Docks.
Pointing out that the Shannon tunnel crossing has attracted huge commercial development on the Dock Road area out as far as the Cement Factory, Cllr Oâ€™Hanlon said that in relation to the master plan for the Docklands, drawn up by Limerick City Council, Shannon Development and SFPC, “there have so far only been expressions of interest in the Limerick Docklands land bankâ€.
Those expressions of interest may very soon transform into positive purchase as Mr Byrne confirms: “We will be going to the market to attract developer interest in Limerick to see what we are sitting on.â€
Despite the docklands masterplan being presented to the shannon foynes port authority in 2004, we have seen very little movement on the project since then, it was initially planned to keep the inner dock open for business with the new developments taking place around it. Now it appears that this plan is being revised, limerick docks is at a serious disadvantage in that it is not a deep water port and the channel is too narrow to allow ships to turn, leaving it unsuitable for larger vessels. The sfpa seem ready to cut their losses and move everything down river to foynes which has the advantage of a wide channel and much deeper water.The docklands project encompasses a much wider area than just the riverfront, it includes vast areas along the dock road and the old greenpark racecourse where a mixed use scheme of residential,commercial,retail and sporting and leisure facilities are planned, its a highly important project that should improve this part of the city no end, it would be nice to see it gain some momentum soon.