The future of Dun Laoghaire as an innovative tech hub has been thrown into doubt after the developer backed out.
Philip Gannon, the man behind the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Innovation Hub, has walked away after the leaseholder failed to obtain a foreshore planning licence.
The multi-million-euro project, which was two years in the planning, was set to bring a wealth of companies to the south Dublin suburb as well as hundreds of jobs and a cash injection worth about €6m a year to the local economy.
Mr Gannon said Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, which took ownership of the proposed site, a former ferry terminal, provided a lack of "concrete information" on when he would receive the foreshore licence. As a result, he was pulling out completely.
"Two years after the ferry terminal building was put up for lease, one year after I signed the lease, and seven weeks after I received planning permission, there was still no foreshore licence in place," Mr Gannon said. "This project is privately funded, so in the absence of any concrete information in relation to the foreshore lease, I feel that I had no choice but to cut my losses and terminate the lease agreement."
Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company was dissolved on October 3 and ownership transferred from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to the county council.
Mr Gannon said he was examining other sites where he could pursue the project.
Aileen Eglington, the president of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber, questioned if there had been the time for due diligence.
"It's a shame because I think his vision for Dun Laoghaire and his vision for that building is incredible. I'd like to think it could happen," she said.
However, Fine Gael councillor Barry Ward said he had spoken to Mr Gannon and the developer had been adamant he would not be returning.
"I asked on a number of occ-asions if he would change his mind and I don't think he will," said Mr Ward. "I spoke to the chief executive of the council and the foreshore licence is not an issue, we have a written order that it was granted, it just hasn't been drafted."
Mr Ward said he had spoken to a number of other parties who were interested in picking up where Mr Gannon left off.
"The space that is available and the location that is available is second to none," he said.
Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross was enquiring into why the foreshore licence had not been granted, his spokesperson said.