May 18th, 2013, 01:53 AM
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CORK’S ARENA DREAM A STEP CLOSER TO REALITY
TUESDAY, MAY 07, 2013
The proposed concert venue for Albert Quay.
By Alan Healy
Cork is on the brink of securing a major piece of infrastructure that the city has been without for far too long.
The city council is calling for submissions from developers who have proposals for a permanent multi-functional events centre.
These 5,000 to 6,000 capacity venues are capable of attracting large conferences, major international concerts, musical productions and dance acts.
For years people in Cork and the surrounding counties have had to travel to Dublin or even London to see such events.
This is hopefully set to change as there are at least three such venues now being proposed for Leeside.
Two of these have already been granted planning permission with a third waiting on a decision shortly.
The city council says it is now inviting proposals from developers for such a venue and will examine the need for public investment in it.
Joint developers Heineken Ireland and Bam have permission for their event centre on the site of the former Beamish brewery.
Howard Holdings were granted permission in 2009 for a hotel, office, apartment and concert venue near Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the Docklands but there is now uncertainty over the future of this proposal.
Developer Owen O’Callaghan is awaiting final planning decision on his proposed event centre on Albert Quay.
In its call for proposals, the city council says it will assess the merits of all submissions and the negotiations with the developers will focus on how much public investment is required.
It will cost anywhere between €30m and €50m to develop a multi-functional venue for the city which is why the backers of these projects are adamant that investment from the council will be needed to make it a success.
As well as city council investment, other proposals such as naming rights would also help defer the construction and running costs of a venue.
The Grand Canal Theatre (Bord Gáis Energy Theatre), the Point Depot (The O2) and the Lansdowne Road Stadium (The Aviva) have all been renamed under deals with commercial companies and a similar big-name sponsor is expected for the Cork venue when it comes into operation.
Another key issue for consideration will be the impact the venue could have on the Cork Opera House, which is also funded by the city council.
The concern is that acts or performances which may previously have played at the Opera House could instead be staged at the new concert venue so the developers will be asked to outline how they will handle that situation in their proposals to the council.
The successful Live at the Marquee concerts series in the Docklands proves that there is demand for a permanent concert venue in Cork and it is now hoped that the city and wider region will not have to wait much longer for such an arena.
The 6,000-capacity conference and concert venue being planned by Cork developer Owen O’Callaghan on the city’s Albert Quay is the only major event centre still waiting on planning permission.
Cork City Council has already given the go-ahead to Mr O’Callaghan but that decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála, which has spent more than a year mulling over the plans. A final decision is expected any day now and if they are approved, the city council will then have three separate event centre proposals to consider for investment.
The Albert Quay venue would be built around the protected Navigation House building located between The Sextant and Idle Hour pubs.
Mr O’Callaghan has been vocal on his proposal, saying the advantage of its location is that it can act as a catalyst for further development in the Docklands area.
The Albert Quay proposal is also the only venue that would be a standalone event centre while the other two proposed developments are tied to apartment, office and retail proposals.
The concert venue planned for the former Beamish Brewery.
Heineken Ireland, which owns the former Beamish brewery site, has entered into a joint venture with property developers Bam Property to redevelop the site into a major mixed use development including shops, restaurants, bars, cinema, office space and student apartments.
An events and concert venue would form a major part of the development with the capacity ranging from 2,000 to 5,500 depending on the event.
The events centre would face French’s Quay and Proby’s Quay with a pedestrian plaza in front of it.
Two new footbridges would also be built to accommodate those using the arena. One bridge would connect with Proby’s Quay and the second would link to Crosse’s Green.
No public car parking is provided for the event centre and all patrons would use Cork’s existing transport network.
Planning was granted for the redevelopment in December 2011 and the event centre would be one of the main contenders for securing city council investment. More images.
Live at the Marquee
The planned concert venue at the Live at the Marquee site in the Docklands.
Development company Howard Holdings, through Alleyquay Investments, was granted planning permission in 2009 for a massive development that would include a 205-bedroom hotel, a 27-storey office and residential building and a 5,100-capacity arena for concerts and conferences.
The planned events arena would be located on the old Ford distribution site facing the corner of the Centre Park Road and the north-south road that links Monahan Road to the Centre Park Road.
The site is already used on a regular basis for the Live at the Marquee festival of concerts as well as annual Funderland events. The planned arena includes two floors of underground parking, a large auditorium, first floor foyer, back stage club, green room and VIP entrance on the Centre Park Road.
Howard Holdings was one of the most aggressive development companies during the Celtic Tiger years but ran into difficulties following the collapse of the construction industry.
It is not known if the owners now want to proceed with an events centre at this location. Last month, NAMA appointed a receiver to the assets of Alleyquay Investments. More images.