What Should be Done With The Opera Centre?

 Posted by on December 10, 2011  Add comments
Dec 102011
 

For readers outside this town, let me explain what the Opera Centre is.

It’s a city block in Limerick which was bought by a developer who wanted to build some shops.  He came up with the name because a famous opera singer called Catherine Hayes was born in one of the houses.  The deal fell through, and the thing was never constructed, with the result that the site fell into dereliction and became an appalling eyesore.

Before going any further with this, let me just point something out .  I detest the title Opera Centre to describe what  was going to be a shopping mall.  I think it’s crass, and in every way representative of the sort of people who drove our disastrous property boom.  Shallow, under-educated and insensitive.

The cream of the country, in other words: rich and thick.

The fact that a famous opera singer happened to be born in one of the houses on the site is not a sufficient reason to call a supermarket the Opera Centre.  If Edmund Hillary had been born there, would they call it the Mountaineering Centre?  Of course not.  If George Best was born there, would they call it the Football Centre?  Don’t be ridiculous.

But the fact that Catherine Hayes was born in the street was enough to persuade these ignoramuses to call it the Opera Centre.  In their limited, money-driven world, the name lent the whole thing a bit of class, even though they probably wouldn’t know what an opera is if you beat them over the head with a Valkyrie.

Because the title passed into popular use, I have to use it as shorthand for the moment but with any luck, it will soon disappear into oblivion.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the real story.  Limerick City Council recently purchased the site and is now trying to come up with a plan for what to do with it.  This is something that needs to be done in consultation with the citizens of Limerick, and not just a few officials or, even worse, the city councillors, one or two of whom can barely write their names, even when sober.

No.  This needs to happen in the light of day, and not when some red-faced councillor is shouting down the legitimate concerns of those who elected him.  This is our democracy, not your democracy, as one of them famously bellowed.  Sadly, with a few exceptions, we are not represented by men and women of prodigious intellect.  Worse — in some cases, we are represented by people who are barely able to read and write.  That’s democracy in Ireland, both local and national.

Transition Limerick is a group of people who have come together to find ways of helping our community to grow more resilient to the challenges we face now and in the future.  They’re holding a public meeting on Monday 19th December at 8pm at the Raggletaggle Consortium (on the corner of Sarsfield and Henry Street) and they want your views.  If you live in Limerick and you think you have something to contribute, why not call in ?  Make your views known.  Be part of the city’s rejuvenation.

Too many decisions in Ireland are made in back rooms with political conniving.  This time, a light will be shone on the decisions that affect all of us.  Go along and be part of that process.  Some of these councillors could barely manage to scratch an X on a rock with a sharpened stone.  Don’t leave it in their hands.  Many of them haven’t yet evolved opposable thumbs.

This initiative isn’t aimed at anyone gaining a political advantage or a slippery wad of cash.  This initiative has nothing to do with clientelism and ward-heeling.  No indeed.  This initiative is about improving our city by legitimate means, based on the views of our people.

In that sense it’s utterly revolutionary.  Instead of asking some semi-literate councillor what he thinks, the movement aims to express the views of citizens up front.  Here’s what we think.  Never mind what that fool of a councillor says.  That’s truly subversive.  Imagine citizens having a say in their own affairs!

The site is a great opportunity to give Limerick a new heart and that needs to be done with imagination — not something our councillors are noted for.  Our mayor, you might not be aware, recently attended a public function in Spain to honour writer Kate O Brien, whose house is now utterly derelict in Limerick.  We need vision, and we won’t find it among these people, as one glance at their CVs will tell you.  We have to look to ourselves.  We need spaces that enhance our lives, not dreary municipal plazas and soulless shopping malls.

Make yourself heard.

  52 Responses to “What Should be Done With The Opera Centre?”

Comments (52)
  1.  

    I wish I lived in Limerick! This was a most impassioned and thoughtful call to action, Bock! Too often people feel that what they say won’t make a difference, but forget that their voice will become part of the public record and must be heard to make a difference. Even with the so called “Sunshine Laws” (meetings must be held with notice to the population, records/minutes must be made available, etc.) here in my little town, the Attorney General of the State had to come here and berate the Mayor and Council for their repeated failures to follow the law! All we can do is, as you said, make yourself heard! We have to hold elected officials accountable or vote the bastards out!

  2.  

    Well, Savannah, I think we’ve had enough of elected idiots making decisions in smoke-filled rooms. It doesn’t take many people to elect these guys, and although they have almost no power, they do develop relationships with the officials who hold the budgets. That’s human nature. Scratch my back …

  3.  

    I wrote this blog post about it a few weeks back. I don’t have even a small fraction of the readership that you have (yet!), so if you don’t mind, I am posting the link here. Feel free to delete.

    https://brianleddin.wordpress.com/

    In brief, I think that the Opera Centre (a title that should be dropped as soon as possible) represents a massive opportunity for Limerick, although for many that won’t be immediately obvious. It’s effectively an opportunity to change the direction of our city from one leading towards further dereliction and social problems to one leading towards a more positive future. It’s unlikely that ever again an entire city block will come under the ownership of a single entity, and it just so happens that that entity is the State.

    What is likely to happen with the development is that the city council will, in consultation with various vested interests, come up with a plan for the site (probably by April 2012). The public consultation process will then begin in the form of the part 8 planning process. Part 8 is a very flawed process and is ill-suited to this kind of development. What tends to happen is that the plan is presented, various individuals and organisations make their views known, and the plan is then tweaked and amended. The elected councillors (and we have a sorry bunch in this town) get the final say.

    In my opinion, what must happen is that the consultation process begins before the plan is drawn up (radical, I know!). And it should be a proper consultation process that looks at the true potential of the site (not just it’s potential as a retail facility) and is wide-ranging and inclusive of all of the stakeholders (citizens, , not just the vested interests. There are plenty of templates for this kind of consultation process and if utilised can lead to a very positive outcome. If we leave it to the few senior city council officials and various well-connected vested interests we will may end up with an Arthur’s Quay Mark 2.

  4.  

    I completely agree.

  5.  

    I’ll be there on the 19th. Great initiative!

  6.  

    there’s a few typos in my post above, but for some reason the edit facility is not working.

  7.  

    That’s because I run this site for no payment and I haven’t the time to fix everything. If people would like to contribute a small fee every week, these problems will go away. Otherwise, what can I say? I do my best.

  8.  

    I drive past both Kate O’Brien’s house and the Opera Centre every time I come in to the city and feel sad at the sight of both. In 2007 I worked for a brief few weeks with a commercial property consultant in the city and was privy to some of the proposed plans for the city centre, including the pedestrianisation of O’Connell St up to Mallow St and the redevelopment of Arthur’s Quay. They looked fantastic, and at the time seemed as if they would go full steam ahead. It’s such a shame to see that our beautiful city never developed to its full potential. I know I’m biased being a Limerickonian, but I truly believe it is the most beautiful and interesting of all our cities.

    Thanks for the info on the Mon 19th meeting. I am definitely going to try and make this. I totally agree the people of Limerick should have a say in what happens next. I was horrified to hear a rumour back in 2007 (which I can’t believe to be true ) that certain property consultants/developers were recommending that many of the Georgian buildings in the city centre be replaced by purpose built office accommodation, their argument being that Limerick is the only Irish city where commercial rents are higher in the periphery that in the city centre. Major retailers, banks etc. are apparently slow to locate in Limerick because of the lack of modern retail/office space. At the time, I could only assume that what was recommended was an internal modernization of those buildings and not that they would be demolished! But it’s hard to know what to believe these days. I was living abroad in the interim years but I understand the Opera Centre was the proposed solution to that (?) I would be interested to know what the plans for the centre look like. Was it purely retail or what else was planned for the centre?

    I also heard that there were plans to commission a landmark building where the old Dunnes Stores at Arthur’s Quay is, the idea being that it would dramatically improve the city skyline looking up the river. I supposed that is on hold as well.

    I would personally love to see the Medieval Quarter developed into an artist’s quarter. It’s a beautiful part of the city and it’s pretty dead.

  9.  

    Your efforts are much appreciated, Bock.

    A few points on the subject at hand. It is not the councillors who ever really come up with plans or visions for the city. These are, more often than not, the notions of a few fairly anonymous and ill-qualified senior city council officials. They wield the real power in Limerick, and the councillors (bad and all as many of them are) are there merely to rubber-stamp what the officials and their departments, in their wisom, come up with.

    Another point to note is that there is a mindset that says that because the development that fell through was to be a shopping mall, then so too must the new development. Indeed, the thinking of most people (and certainly those who have most influence) is that for Limerick to thrive we must build fancy shopping malls to draw people in from the surrounding region and suburbs to spend their money. We hear and read so much about how Limerick must entice a major retail chain to set up in the city centre as if it is the panacea to the ills of the city.

    This is very flawed reasoning, and very much a case of putting the cart before the horse. The economy of the city centre will only thrive if there is a city centre based population that creates a vibrant economy here. It’s all well and good to encourage out of towners to come to the city centre to shop (and bypass the retail parks on the outskirts), but the average County Limerick, Clare or Tipperary resident will only come to Limerick once every few weeks to spend their money, at best. But if there were people actually living in the city centre (and before anyone pipes up, there really aren’t that many, i.e. we have a very low urban population density by Irish and international standards) they would spend their money every other day.

  10.  

    I think what needs to be done is for a series of impotent committees to be set up and funds repeatedly denied to the site, so that it will remain derelict and gradually decay, slowly driving people out of the city centre entirely into the competing shopping centres in the county so that the city itself is slowly choked to death by the indolence and incompetence of its governing officials.

    Alternatively, you could turn it into a big two story car park and pedestrianise a few streets around it, but that would be far too forward thinking altogether.

  11.  

    What needs to be done is to concentrate on and manipulate our beautiful Shannon River, there should be bars and cafes from Arthur’s Quay to Steamboat quay. It is one of the best river fronts in Europe. As for The Opera Centre, that could remain as a Georgian front for a while until a few quid starts floating around again,fair play for JP Mc Manus for throwing a few quid at it and cleaning it up though. But for now, I can’t see any potential for it.

  12.  

    @Ronwan agreed that the river should be the focal point of the city. It’s a beautiful river front. Lots of potential for the docklands area too.

  13.  

    The acquisition of the Opera Centre site by Limerick City Council presents a rare opportunity to do something special to help revitalise our city centre. Lets hope that this opportunity is not wasted.

    Public consultations & meetings will certainly produce ideas for what should be included within the development ranging from the progressive & insightful to the weird, wacky and ridiculous. Who then decides what should be done? City Councillors or Senior Civil Servants?

    My initial thoughts on this would be as follows:

    1. Limerick City Council need to publish information about the site and background as to why it has been purchased. This publication should also include an outline as to timeline / what kind of money can be put into the site or even if they are thinking of going down the road of public / private partnership for funding the proposed development.

    2. An informed Public can then put forward ideas for what would be good for the city and this particular site.

    3. A development brief can then be formulated based on public input and indeed input from business and development professionals ( e.g. architects / tourism & marketing / IDA / heritage / arts etc)

    4. The development brief can then be issued and a public DESIGN COMPETITION started. Participants in the competition will have to produce a detailed design concept to include broad construction cost estimates together with a viable business plan to include numbers on increased visits to the city & revenue spend. The design concept will need to include required amenities and an accommodation schedule which will be outliend in the development brief.

    The desgn competition entries should be made public and public consultation should be required in the decision making process.

    This way, Limerick will get to see, review and assess the imaginative and varied concepts which will no doubt be put forward.

    For what its worth, my own opinion is that the development should be geared towards increasing tourist, both international and national, numbers to the city, whilst at the same time, providing the amenities and accommodation which will enhance our city centre.

    If this is done right, surrounding areas will all of a sudden become economically viable for improvement & investment.

    All feedback welcome :-)

  14.  

    Why would anyone be surprised at what this council does? Didn’t they sell part of the People’s Park to private developers?

  15.  

    The Opera Centre is destined for Residential, Entertainment and Hospitality. If they want it to be any use. Why develop something limited in this corner of the City with no infrastructure to support it ? The writing is on the wall for the rest of the City as can be seen clearly around the main under developed streets.

    Retail should be niche or local. The space in the Opera Centre (stupid name right enough) would be limited, resulting in evrything squashed in to maximise profit per square foot, like A bigger Arthurs Quay (which is a badly designed shithole)

    Consumers are voting with their feet and going where they can access easily, park easily, and for free, and be sheltered.

    The modern consumer wants outlets, near infrastructure, retailers want cheap space, and loads of it. Everybody wants to park nearby for free, and then be able to get out again without queing for the priviledge of parting with your hard earned cash.

    Smaller towns around Ireland and suburbs of Dublin have better facilities then Limerick.

    Take the stupidity of trying to force Marks and Spencer where they don’t want to go, they say fuck you and priortise opening in Cashel before Limerick.

    The councillors of Limerick wouldn’t know joined up planning if it bit them on the ass.

    The public have voted with their Euros wake up and smell the future, as it has unfolded everywhere else.

    Just an alternative view, can’t see why it was ever going to be an attractive site to develop, Coonagh and Raheen have more potential, and the roads have been finished, and they have the space for the future to do something which will work longer term.

    Imagine the stupidity of doing free parking only at Xmas in the City, control the parking some other way and encourage people to come in all year and spend their money, or watch them continue to shop and park, out of town.

  16.  

    What is the obsession with attracting the no.1 knicker seller to Limerick? All profits will be sent back to Britain. Is the city somehow incomplete without M&S knickers? Is it St.Munchins curse or are all native retailers condemned to failure? Is there an obsession with British retailers, Boots, Debenhams, Penny’s at the expense of Irish or local Fergusons, Roches, Cannocks? The only rhing wissing from our high streets is the Nat West and Midlands banks and then the identykit would be complete. We don’t need another retail giant in tthe city centre, we need to rejuvenate retail in the city centre. We are all free to shop where we want but if we want a city centre worth it’s name then we as Limerick people need to shop there. We as a people have ran with gusto to the out of town centres and retail parks helping to create a doughtnut effect. Then we bitch that there is nothing to buty in the city centre. In short we are hypocrits.

    Rutland / Patrick St. should, in my opinion, be developed as high quality family apartments. 2/3/4 bedroom apartments where families can live in the city, not rabbit hutches owned by some barrister looking for a return. The ground floor could be used for local businesses like the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. But then again we’d probably begrudge the occupants / retailers for having a nice place to live / making money. We as a people need to use our city or see it closed, we cannot continue to ignore it. Nor can we use the usual bullshit excuses of “Nowhere to park”, “Nothing in there”, “Full of scobes”. The much revered Crescent is like Dale Farm on most Sundays. Support your city or lose it.

  17.  

    I agree. The last thing we need is another supermarket, but that’s as far as our councillors’ imaginations extend.

  18.  

    It’s not just another Supermarket, and the reason the stupid Councillors are trying to push them in to their doomed site as anchor tenants is they will draw people in, as well as giving Dunnes and Tesco a run for their money, at the same time. I guess what you have never had you won’t miss.

    @No.8

    Thank god for the UK retailers they come, they compete, they conquer, the local guys were over priced,crap serivce, ripping people off for years. Not all the money goes to the UK, like the local suppliers they have to pay tax and employ locals. The local suppliers were probably investing their money in Spain and offshore anyway. And as you rightly point out people have chosen them over the locals for many good reasons. If no one shopped there they would have fucked off before now.

    The problem of parking, Scobes, and the fact that there is nothing left in the City can’t be ignored, just by saying it should be, a solution to these problems is required, people have choice now and have made their choice.

    I’m not “revering” the Crescent it suffers many of the same problems as the City, and is a hodge podge of bad planning, but it has free parking. It’s going to be limited in the future, and not only by bad council policies.

  19.  

    Labrat I don’t decry the UK rtailers, they certainly provide jobs and did indeed get the locals to pull up their socks. Much as how the German discounters have upped the ante on both domestic and overseas retailers since their appearance. I sai that the profits are repatriated, not all the money. The locals were certainly over priced as were/are the UK retailers. The Crescent SC has all the soul of a shag on Catherine St. yet the people have chosen as is their want. I see that the Chamber of Commerce are urging us to shop locally while they promote and encourage their members to use a British company for certain servives, but that’s for another day.

    As I said people are free to shop where they wish, but when the city centre has ceased to exist it will be too late to complain. It’s up to us.

  20.  

    Go along to that meeting and share your opinion. We don’t want the doughnut effect in Limerick. Let’s resist it. Make your views known.

  21.  

    I’m not certain what should be done with the site. But I do strongly believe that an effective and inclusive consultation process should be engaged so that the best solution is found, and that the vast bulk of people in the city can have confidence in.

    All of us will have ideas. Many will be good, many not so good and some probably ambitious in the extreme. But whatever our thoughts and ideas, no matter how good, they are likely to fall on deaf ears unless there is an effective process in which they are thrashed out, thoroughly considered and agreed. That’s what the meeting next Monday (19th Dec) is all about, and hopefully it will be the first of many.

    For my part, I believe that the focus of the city council should be on making Limerick’s city centre an attractive place to live rather than an attractive place to shop. Maybe that would involve renovating the upper floors of the Georgian buildings on the block into quality apartments that are suitable for families to live in, or maybe it would entail levelling the site and making a park out of the space. There are countless other possibilities, and we just cannot know at this stage, without engaging a thorough consultation process, what the right way forward is.

    The focus of the Council must first and foremost be on creating a city centre that people want to live in. Thriving economies and vibrant cities are created by people, not by buildings or shops.

  22.  

    We’ve done enough levelling of our 18th-century heritage. Let’s find a solution that doesn’t involve further vandalism.

  23.  

    @No 8.

    I wouldn’t be too harsh on the people of the city for onset of the doughnut effect and the proliferation of peripheral retail centres such as the Crescent Shopping Centre. These outlets satisfy a regional demand, not a city one. People travel from all over the Mid-West and beyond to shop in the Crescent. As long as Ireland and the Mid-West has such a dispersed population (the highest in Europe, thanks to successive government policies that often encouraged rural settlement against all good planning sense), there will be a demand for shopping centres such as the Crescent.

  24.  

    Brian the people of Limerick cannot be exonerated for the decline in the city centre. It is us that use the shopping centres far more frequently than anyone else. But the lack of any coherent, joined up development plan in the Mid West by the councils of Limerick City, Co. and Co.Clare is/was a disaster. The traffic from Clare through Corbally Mon – Fri is a joke. Yet all we get from Clare is Cllr Crowe harping on about the lack of adequate roads in the city, no mention of the road(s) in from Clare.

    Build the apartmets in Rutland / Patrick St. I for one would love to live in the city centre with all the attractions of a city on my doorstep.

  25.  

    I think the doughnut effect has happened, why resist it ? You say “we don’t want it”, but clearly people do ? How do you get round the limitations of the Opera Centre’s location ?

    Is their a better solution to the way people now choose to shop ? with their cars, in the dry ? The doughnut is the future for Limerick, just like every other major City.

    I thought you were lookng for other suggestions for the Opera Centre which would work, and sustain it long term, but you appear to have your agenda for what you want for the people of Limerick already mapped out.

    Limerick needs an innovative solution to making good use of it’s 18th century heritage, building a big white elephant in the wrong corner of the City isn’t it. And nobody is addresing the scobe and parking elephants in the room. Not to mention the limitations of the 18th Century heritage for retail, or for a long term sustainable future.

    Shop local is fine, but back at reality people with no money shop where the best deal is to be had. It’s such a load of nonsense, who would pay more in the current climate ?

  26.  

    “The doughnut is the future for Limerick, just like every other major City.”

    I think most other major city planners/population/citizens would disagree. Look at the efforts to rejuvenate Deroit.

    “Not to mention the limitations of the 18th Century heritage for retail, or for a long term sustainable future.”

    Paris and Rome don;t seem to have suffered from having older heritage than Limerick, no parking and their fair share of scobes. We seem inacapable / unwilling to think laterally.

  27.  

    @Labrat

    I very much doubt the doughnut is the future of every city. Car ownership is set to decline significantly as fuel costs rise. I’ve given up my own car this year, for financial reasons, and living in the city centre is the only option for me. Thankfully, I quite like it, but city life in Limerick could be improved a lot.

  28.  

    Comparing Paris to Limerick ?

    Limerick is no Paris I’m afraid, at least their scobes speak French and like a fresh baguette.

    I will admit I haven’t been following Deroit /Detroits rejuvenation issues ?

    Citizens have already decided, regardless of what the planners and others wanted for them. People don’t really trek from artisan butcher shop, to artisan veg man shop anymore, even if somebody thought creating small artisan shops in the 18th century buildings to make good use of them, would be profitable for the artisans or the developer.

  29.  

    Why don’t we just give up? Do you have any positive suggestions?

  30.  

    You said that the doughnut was the future for Limerick and every other major city, comparing Limerick to Paris in that instance was fair.

    Are French speaking scobes any better than our own?

    “People don’t really trek from artisan butcher shop, to artisan veg man shop anymore”

    Checkout the daily markets in Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and a host of other continental cities. It may not happen here, but then we’ve done our best to prevent it.

  31.  

    No reason to give up, and we now know what won’t be discussed on the 19th

    I’m just acknoledging the reality of whats currently happening.

    I made some positive, realistic suggestions in earlier posts, based on what has happened in other cities, where the planners have embraced the future, they don’t appear to be up for discussion.

    Brian, I can see where your coming from with the giving up the car thing, Limerick doesn’t have the infrastructure alternative to make that practical currently for a familly. I could see families giving up one car, but in all the donut shopping centres there are currently no shortage of cars, which have to be accomodated. The city centre currently is not somewhere I would want to bring up kids. And cycling around with the 2 kids and the shopping could prove to be a bit dangerous and wet.

  32.  

    Maybe, LabRat. I do notice that plenty of families of eastern European and African origin choose to live in the city centre, and they are doing the economy of the city a great service. I don’t see how Irish families couldn’t manage it, especially if a bit of thought and investment was put into the planning of the city with this in mind.

  33.  

    “LabRat
    Thank god for the UK retailers they come, they compete, they conquer, the local guys were over priced,crap serivce, ripping people off for years”
    How do you know? you in business yourself?, or is it just your perception?
    A friend of my daughters (one of the few who has’nt emigrated) set up in business recently, he opened a Barber shop, so he rents a premises, signs a lease (upwards only, hey this is fucking Ireland) signs up for ESB etc., and, away he goes, last week he had a visit from the Rates guy, who informs him he will have to essentially give one haircut a day for to pay the City Manager his rates, and, I had to inform him, unfortunately, because he gives his clients a cup of coffee, and occasionally people want their hair washed, that does not include water rates. yeah he will be ripping people off, like fuck.
    Talking to a friend of mine tonight about English retailers, he had a business close to one of the English high street chains, they used to “borrow” his forklift, yes “borrow” not hire, and he occasionally drove it himself, not only did all their stock come in from the U.K., but also, all their consumables, including toilet paper.
    They pay minimum wage with short term contracts, was out there today, and the place was mobbed.
    Retail in Limerick City or any Irish city/town?, it’s over, so far this week we have had 3 deliveries from my children’s online shopping, 1 from the U.K., 1 from Ireland, 1 from the U.S.A., although after being caught for €28.70 V.A.T. for the U.S. one, my son won’t be shopping outside the EU in a hurry again.
    The 1 Irish purchase was from a kid who has set up an online shop selling his own designs of tee-shirt, fair play to him.
    We are not the shoppers of tomorrow, our children are.
    To those of you who feel we have to destroy our Georgian heritage to accommodate a well known English retailer, well, this time last year, thanks to Micky O’Leary’s dirt cheap air fares, herself and myself were enjoying the sunshine in the beautiful island of Malta, where naturally, herself dragged me into said English store in Valetta, did they demolish their architectural heritage to accommodate them ?, no, but with a few cleverly designed glass walkways, they connected 3 existing buildings together, giving a spacious one store feel to it., but then the Maltese respect their heritage, up to including the fact that 70 years ago the Italians and Germans bombed the shit out of them, and in the main they put the place back together much as it was.

  34.  

    @JBKenn

    As it happens I am in business, but more importantly I am a consumer, and I have been watching trends over the past 25 years, both here and in the UK.
    Upwardly only rent review leases are mostly the banks fault for lending against the future income, which will prevent the government from doing anything about them.

    It’s a good point though as it is another good reason why the UK/Irish retailers are pulling out of the city Centre, to relocate in units which better meet their specifications for making money. They are also the fault of the people who still sign them. There will be very little rip off going on with people setting up in business now, if they want to stay in business for any length of time.

    The evil UK retailers, have never made any secret of the fact they are in business to make money, if they hadn’t bothered their backside to keep expanding there would be a lot more vacant units around Limerick, would that not be worse. ?

    Good point also about Internet shopping, which should not be ignored. I was in a bookshop in town yesterday, and they did not have stock of a popular title, and would not have it till January. It was still available on Amazon, cheaper and delivered on time, where are you going to go?

    There are very good examples of Georgian Heritage being put back to its original use, instead of lying empty after being rejected by the specific requirements of modern office and retailing. A mix of Boutique Hotels, restaurants,entertainment and residential has been successfully incorporated in the regeneration of other cities.

    The UK / Irish retailers will not bother their tail trying to shoehorn business into the Georgian Heritage, so they will not be calling for it to be destroyed they have their alternative in place and working.

    Maybe the UK supplier tried to buy consumables locally and found they were more expensive, and the guy never came when he said he would, as kept happening to me.

  35.  

    i think the whole of limerick should be flatten. one big fucker of a bomb would do the job. instant improvement.

  36.  

    Thanks for that stupid non-moment.

  37.  

    don’t mention it

  38.  

    I have to say that I firmly believe that the future of Limerick is making it attractive to live in. Not just shop in. I have been blowing this horn for years. My father grew up in Joseph’s street – Limerick was a big town (its status as a city is pretty irrelevant and unhelpful at times) where people lived. And shopped. And went to the many theatres and cinemas that were in town.

    Very little of this remains. I live in O’Connell avenue and would happily be even further in the town – but we are lacking what could make it even more attractive – a city centre mainstream cinema for example.

    Yes it wont solves all the problems but its identifying one that would help.

    I think whatever happens to the buildings on patrick street, it should be people focused as well as shopping focused.

  39.  

    I would like the area to try and get people into the city after business hours.Small art house cinema, cafes, some type of local talent development centre, etc

  40.  

    At Leftwinger – The Royal cinema is reopening soon, for the very reasons you outlined in you message.
    Good news eh?

    With regards to The Opera Centre. Why not some arts and craftsmen’s workshops with a front of house sales area?
    You know leather goods, Furniture, ironworks etc, and a good size theatre where we could watch live music…and wait for it, maybe even an opera or two! I know people will mention the University concert hall as having filled this void. But I don’t except that. We need a good size theatre in the city centre for the citizens of limerick city and county to be proud of. One of the most disgraceful things that was every perpetrated against this great city of ours, was the demolition of the beautiful Savoy concert hall.

  41.  

    I know I might be banging a drum a little bit, but for any of the good suggestions to be viable (i.e. arthouse cinema, artisan craft shops, etc) there needs to be people living in the city centre. I really think it’s the core of the problem.

    With that in mind, how about dedicating a large section of the block to residential use? Well-designed, quality apartments suitable for families. Let’s raise the bar a little bit.

    How about incorporating a university faculty into the development? Throw in accomodation for the students. That would generate a huge amount of business for the city, and would also make it a more vibrant place too. There would be significant resistance to this from UL not least because they like to have everything contained on campus in Plassey (they have good reasons for this), but perhaps the case should be made to them that this is a massive opportunity for Limerick and the university itself could benefit greatly.

    One faculty that springs to mind, which could be a nice fit for the city centre site is the School of Architecture. It is in need of a new building, and also architecture is one of the few courses that doesn’t spread itself across many faculties. Where better to have a School of Architecture that in the heart of an ancient city?

  42.  

    I agree aspects of the University would be a good fit, and developing a City campus has been mooted before now. Howver you can’t , sadly, mix Student accomodation with anyone else living nearby. This can be seen around Plassey and Castletroy, where it doesn’t work for either party. This works very well in the South of the City of Edinburgh, and contributes greatly to the accomodation used by the Edinburgh Festival shows.

  43.  

    @ Brian, Sorry, I don’t buy this notion that for the city centre to work we all have to move into O Connell St or William St. Anybody living within a 10 to 15 minute walk of O Connell St is living in the City Centre. If you are living in Mayorstone, your in the city centre. If you are living in Janesboro your living in the city centre. Let them have the supermarkets and big department stores out in the Crescent and Childers Rd. I mean fuck it, there just eyesores. What makes the centre of any great city attractive? Supermarkets Bookies and Pound Shops? I doubt it says Croaker. Its the little craft shops, cafes, Bars with great live music. The Old architecture/buildings, Street theatre etc, etc. I am sure that for any of you who have lived abroad will know, you don’t go into the centre of Paris on a Saturday or Sunday to buy the groceries or visit the pound shops or bookies. You go in to the centre to relax, have a coffee, maybe even a pastes, watch the street dancers or rustle around in the old junk shops or book shops. The notion of bringing life back into the city centre, requires us to turn it into a giant shopping mall is just fucken senseless.

  44.  

    @Long John Silver

    I’m not suggesting that at all. Just saying the city centre itself needs a critical mass of people living there to generate sufficient business for any retail outlets, be they artisan craft shops or high street retail chains, to survive and ultimately thrive. This is true for any city in the world. The current push by city council is to attract people in from the wider Mid-West region (and suburbs) to shop in the city centre. That’s a flawed policy. If they concentrated their energies on making the city an attractive place to live in, such that a significant shift in the population and demographic was brought about (over time) then Limerick would be a far better place to live in.

  45.  

    @ Brian, Is there any data available that gives details of private residencies within the City Centre at present?
    I think we are both saying the same thing really. Its just having grown up in an area similar in distance from the city centre, to both of the estates that I have mentioned. We always considered ourselves “City Centre Folks” as opposed to suburbanites. Maybe a campaign to reignite this sense of place would be worthwhile. Because we have such a small city centre to begin with, I don’t think that more residence living in the City centre will make a real difference, I could be wrong though.
    It might be wiser to move away from trying to attract big department stores and big supermarket chains – Not suggesting here that this would be your strategy by the way – and concentrate our energies on attracting the type of business’s mentioned in my original post.

  46.  

    It would be a good thing to hold an architectural competition with a difference. Nobody would get the design job, but the submissions would serve as a nucleus of debate. And I think there’s a fair number of talented local architects who would be willing to participate pro bono. Not a bad project for UL’s architecture department to become involved in.

  47.  

    There was a good idea on the BBC news this morning where they had regnerated a market by allowing people 3-6 months free in empty units the Council owned, to enable new businesses to set up. The only criteria was it had to be a business that was not already available.

    In the current economic climate it’s not like you could go to a bank and borrow some money to try something new.

    There is also a report being presented to the Government in the UK today, among the suggestions, is a recommendation they abolish parking charges in city Centres, and control the parking problems differently. Take the responsibillity away from short term thinking councils who have a need to make money to pay for services, which result in bad short term decisions.

  48.  

    I’d like to go to this meeting, as I’d like to hear some other people’s ideas about what should be done with this eyesore. However, I’m loathe to miss my last Monday night soccer before the Christmas season kicks in properly – something has to keep the gut away. Do ye reckon the meeting would still be going on at about ten past 9 or so?

  49.  

    No idea, but I’d imagine it would still be on.

  50.  

    Hi,
    I love the sound of this initiative. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity . We have a chance to build a new attractive futuristic city centre but one that looks back at its past also……. It can become somewhere that educated , highly skilled and creative people from all over the world will want to come to live and work.

    Can I suggest that a timed agenda for the discussion be posted here. One that we follow strictly. It will provide a sense of achievement at the end of the night. Im not at all pretending a perfect solution will be found but at least it will be a good first stab

    My suggestion is as follows ( please edit add or omit)
    1. Introduction (5mins)

    2. Short Background on the Site and its history ( history of area in general)(10mins)

    3. Great things about Limerick at the moment (10mins)

    4. Maintaining the remaining Georgian Architecture & Heritage benefits …the benefits . I believe that a soul and memory of a city is in its buildings (5mins)

    5. The Urban Living Element on the site ( % of development / numbers/ standards) ( 10 mins)

    6. The Employment element – possibilities, Business Units for Hi tech /IT/ Biotechology/ smart technology/ employers that can feed off graduates from UL and abroad
    (10mins)

    7. The Sports & Cultural Elements ( 15mins)
    a) A Theatre on a the scale of Siamsa Tire in Tralee ( multifunctional with facilities for conferences & forum for visting dignatories to city and facilities for lectures or even films) The pubs , restaraunts and hotels would love a theatre …..i think. Look how well they do when UCH is booked out…..ahhhhh they dont actually

    b)A Science Museum ( 15mins)

    c)A School – There ws “TALK” recently about building new schools outside the city because buildings are falling down on the Sexton Street CBS complex.
    Ive also heard talk of a Gaeilscoil going for planning off the Coonagh Roundabout. ( 5mins)

    d)Sport Facilities- I live in the city and there’s nowhere to have a game of squash /racketball/ handball within a 5km radius. I heard that the council demolished 6 outdoor handball courts in 10 years and replaced them with old peoples community centres.????? ( 10mins)

    e) Artists Hub ( 5 mins)

    f) Dance Studios/ Ballet School/ Music Rooms (5mins)

    g) Indoor Playground & Creche ( 5mins)

    h) Tourist Info for the Midwest (5mins)

    8. Urban Space – Green areas / urban gardens (5mins)

    What ever combination of elements go into this we can make it happen the way we want if we get the strategy right.

    And there are plenty of examples across europe where similar projects were undertaken that rejuvanated cities. Do the research

  51.  

    hi James. I’m not the main organiser, but I’ve attended all of the Transition Limerick meetings so far, so can give you an idea of what it’s about. Firstly, we’ve tended to be sharp enough about wrapping up the meetings. This one is different in that we’ve opened it up to whoever wishes to attend and we’ve asked a number of specific people to attend also (people who we know are doing good work on the ground in Limerick City), and there is a very focussed and relevant agenda, so I’d imagine it should still be going on after 9pm. In any case, the plan is that there will be further meetings. We’d like to see this become an open and inclusive forum for generating ideas about what should be done with the site. We’d like to take the debate a good bit further than what we’ve been hearing and reading in the local media (i.e. that a Marks & Spencers should go there, or it should be levelled to build a multi-story car park). We believe there are far more intelligent and creative solutions which could have a greater positive impact on Limerick and we think the only way to get those aired is to host a forum such as this. We also believe in taking a long term view, and for that reason we think the purchase of the block by the council presents a very great opportunity for Limerick City, far greater than is immediately obvious. It could be a real turning point for our city, and we need to impress that upon the decision makers.

  52.  

    A La Boheme centre it certainly is not.

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