As the Opera Square development begins to take shape, Limerick Voice reflects on the timeline of the project so far
By James Hanly
Acquired by Limerick City and County Council in 2011, the ‘transformative’ Opera Square development is currently the largest demolition and enabling works site outside of Dublin City. Situated at one of the city’s oldest blocks, between Ellen Street and Bank Place, the site was the second major project to be taken on by the Limerick Twenty Thirty development company.
From the start, it was made clear that the project would complement and not disrupt the beautiful Georgian architecture of adjoining Rutland Street, including refurbishments to the old Town Hall dating from 1805 and iconic Granary building on the corner of Patrick Street.
After a public consultation process, the project was due to commence in 2018 and reach completion within five years, however, it took until June of that year for site plans to be officially unveiled. The Covid-19 pandemic caused further delays in early 2021.
The European Investment Bank provided major support at the beginning of the project in the form of an €85 million loan to Limerick Council. This amount was then matched by the European Development Bank, doubling available funds.
The most recent plans for the 3.7 acre plot boast work and education spaces (including a 14-story office block at Bank Place), a 100-unit residential building, an Apart hotel, a large-scale library and retail/hospitality areas. Opera Square will be developed to the highest international sustainability standards -planned with a LEED Platinum accreditation, the project should achieve an energy rating of almost zero.
After additional funding in 2020 through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and a further €80 million Irish Strategic Investment Fund partnership announced this week, the total fund pool now stands at €200 million.
Site demolition, design and construction of Opera Square have been delegated to John Sisk & Son, with construction expected to ramp up in the coming weeks – including the construction of a 10,000 sq metre basement and car park.
The major city centre landmark is now expected to reach completion by early 2025 – 17 years after planning permission was originally granted at the site for an ‘Opera Centre’ shopping mall.
Frances Foley, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, said this week, “This is the moment when we can finally say that two decades after the redevelopment of this site was first mooted by the private sector, building is now finally underway.”
Find out more about the Opera Square development.