'Like winning the Lotto' - GAA and Council close to €6.1m deal to see grand entrance built for stadium
THE GAA and Dublin City Council are on the verge of striking a €6.1m deal that will see a grand entrance being built for Croke Park and new social housing for the inner city.
The deal is believed to be just days from being finalised after years of false starts.
Lord Mayor Christy Burke described the plans as "like winning the lottery" for the area.
The project will see:
l The existing Croke Park Villas flats replaced by 60 new social housing units.
l The construction of a new senior citzens' centre.
l The development of a boulevard with shops, restaurants and offices.
l A new community and handball centre will be built.
The area of development focus is at the Ballybough Road side of the national stadium as well as at Sackville Avenue, where the Croke Villas are located.
The 50-year-old 79-unit flats complex currently houses just eight remaining tenants who would be rehoused. If the deal is agreed by management in the council and GAA authorities, it will have to be passed by the elected members of Dublin City Council in the next monthly meeting, as it involves the sale of public land.
The news comes after similar plans collapsed in December 2008, with the city council stating two years later that it was "extremely unlikely that Croke Villas will be redeveloped in the foreseeable future".
The plan resurfaced three years ago and again last year during the Garth Brooks concert fiasco. Plans had previously been opposed by some members of the local community - including by members of the handball centre which campaigned against the five-in-a-row Brooks gigs.
The latest incarnation - which will see investment by Dublin City Council to go with the GAA cash - appears to be about to get over the line.
"At long, long last I welcome the proposal of the development of Croke Villas between Dublin City Council and Croke Park and the addressing of the handball centre," said Lord Mayor Christy Burke.
"It's like winning the lottery for the area. All aspects of the community will be addressed. This is going on for 15 years, I couldn't see anyone blocking it.
"There may be people who have questions about the proposal but they can all be dealt with.
"I've been representing the area of Ballybough for 30 years. It's a positive for the area," Mr Burke added.
A member from the City Manager's office at yesterday's Central Area Committee meeting said: "There is a deal there to be done for Croke Villas with a sizeable contribution from the GAA."
He added that there were, "still things to be ironed out".
These are understood to be technical in nature.
The Lord Mayor hopes that the deal will be signed within the next 10 to 14 days in order to be agreed by the council members in February.
In terms of the beginning of actual works, he said that there is no reason for any delay.
While the overall cost of the development of the area has yet to be decided, the GAA's contribution of €6.1m will cover a large amount of the works.