The biggest redevelopment project outside Dublin has received seven expressions of interest so far, as plans for Limerick city centre are ramped up.
Limerick City and County Council unveiled plans to redevelop the Opera Centre in the heart of the city last March. At the time it was said the redevelopment could be worth as much as €100m and create 3,000 jobs once completed.
At an update on the plans yesterday, the council confirmed that seven developers had show an interest in the plan, and it remains on schedule for construction to begin within 18 months.
The Opera Centre is one of seven sites being developed around Limerick city.
Apart from the Opera Centre, the Hanging Gardens has gone to tender and construction should start in the fourth quarter of this year; the Cleeves site was acquired in full by the council and is being prepared to be offered for development; Mungret College's 200 acres is being viewed as Limerick's Phoenix Park and a plan should be before council before year end; and work on Colbert Station will start in June and will complement what the council calls "smarter travel" initiatives.
While those plans are forging ahead, a planned footbridge connecting Arthur's Quay to King John's Castle is said to be "still worth considering" but more funding is required.
Limerick City and County Council chief executive Conn Murray said "our primary ambition is to focus on the retail revival of the city centre, hence our stance with Horizon Mall".
He highlighted that while rates have decreased significantly, "only 60pc of rates are being paid and we need all rates to be paid so we have adequate funding to reinvest in services".
Limerick Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ring added: "The entire region needs a vibrant and thriving city centre, a centrepiece to hold it all together.
"A stronger city centre translates to a stronger economy for everyone in the county and region. In recent years we have seen our city make great strides forward."