Saturday 22 September 2018

Kilkenny bids for business with Abbey Quarter scheme

An artist’s impression of the Abbey Quarter, which is set to be developed on the site of the former Smithwicks brewery in Kilkenny City
An artist’s impression of the Abbey Quarter, which is set to be developed on the site of the former Smithwicks brewery in Kilkenny City
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The former home of Smithwicks Brewery in Kilkenny City is to undergo a multimillion euro transformation involving the development of just under 60,000 sq m (645,000 sq ft) of offices, retail, residential, educational and civic space.

The Abbey Quarter, as it will be known, is set to incorporate the remains of 13th century Franciscan Abbey as its centrepiece and will see the refurbishment of the old Smithwicks brewhouse to provide almost 4,450 sq m (47,850 sq ft) of grade A office space.

The wider masterplan for the 10-acre site will include the development of 14 new blocks of mixed-use space as well as the delivery of a new 2.5 acre public plaza and urban park at St Francis Abbey.

The Brewhouse will be the first building to be developed and will provide a range of flexible grade A office options. The building can be let in its entirety, as three separate floors averaging 1,480 sq m (15,940 sq ft) or up to 12 office suites varying in size from 302 sq m (3,250 sq ft) to 480 sq m (5,170 sq ft).

The new building is designed to achieve LEED gold standard. Originally the centre of the Smithwicks brewing operation, it is located beside the old abbey and has frontage on to Horse Barrack Lane, which is being completely re-landscaped to provide high-quality public space, all within a few minutes walk from High Street in the centre of Kilkenny City.

Elsewhere on the site, the Mayfair, which was originally built as a ballroom is to be refurbished and will offer almost 1,540 sq m (16,576 sq ft) of flexible office space and form a gateway to the Abbey Quarter. The north side of the building is close to the old city walls which followed the river Breagagh. The renovation works are to be sympathetic to its location at the 'Watergate' which connected the old city centred on the castle and Irishtown centred on St Canice's Cathedral.

Speaking in advance of the official launch of the Abbey Quarter yesterday, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys welcomed the provision by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) of €12.3m in development loan finance for the project.

Eugene O'Callaghan, Director of the ISIF, said ISIF's unique mandate had enabled it to partner with Kilkenny County Council on the development of the Kilkenny Abbey Quarter site. Commenting on ISIF's provision of loan financing specifically, Mr O'Callaghan said: "ISIF is very pleased to have agreed commercial terms on the construction finance for the delivery of modern offices in the Brewhouse and Mayfair buildings, which will kick start the redevelopment of this site. Following execution of legal documentation we expect construction to commence in the final quarter of 2018."

Kilkenny County Council Chief Exec, Colette Byrne, described the development as an "exceptional opportunity for Kilkenny," while Aoife O'Neill of Lisney, agent for the development said the scheme was already attracting businesses looking to provide their employees with "something more than just a place to work".

"This is an exceptional location for companies seeking outstanding global connectivity, " Ms O'Neill said.

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