Less than a year since being told by Wexford County Council that his services were no longer required, Harry Crosbie is back on board with a major development for Gorey's Market House.
It is now all systems go for Crosbie's vision of a 'Vicar Street South' venue, complete with 1,500 seater multi-purpose arena which would be the largest of its kind outside of Dublin.
A package has been prepared and is due to be put before Wexford County Council for consideration this month. Minister Michael D'Arcy, who has been a strong supporter of Crosbie's vision, confirmed that the Dublin developer is central to this development. It is hoped that the venue will be open by March 2021.
Speaking to this newspaper yesterday (Monday), Harry Crosbie said that a local architect is now on board, and that all that is needed is the go-ahead from Wexford County Council.
'The reaction has been hugely positive and people are excited because they understand it'll benefit everything especially socially, culturally, economically as well as the community.
'The plan is fully designed with hope for a 21 year lease'.
Mr Crosbie said that the new plan gives a fresh look on the previous approach, and that he is confident that it will be achieved.
'Last year I lost patience with the way that Wexford County Council were doing it, and I made a clean decision that I wouldn't continue as I didn't like that approach.
'Getting this over the line by March 2021 is quite normal and usual, I want to open with a full diary list of top acts with Aiken promotions as the lead promoter.
'The venue will need a lot of selling, and all jobs created will be for local people, but the real benefit is socially and culturally for the area, and I'd love to make a contribution to Wexford like that'.
Harry Crosbie said that he plans to be on site two days a week during construction, working closely to see his vision recognised.
'This will have a phenomenal and tremendous impact to trade in the entire area. We plan to see a huge footfall of people from a 60 mile radius.
'We have a lot of skill around what we do and this is what we're good at. I founded the 3 Arena, and it's recognised as one of the best mid sized arenas in the world and my hope is that this development will be the best mini arena in the world, the whole world'.
Local support for this has come from the Redmond construction company who have invested its interests in the development of the project.
Paddy Redmond told this newspaper that there have been a number of meetings with all concerned, including Harry Crosbie, over the last six months and he is confident that a March 2021 completion date is possible.
'Everything is moving on well but there are boxes to be ticked in terms of the finer detail, like getting planning and Wexford County Council commitment but we are hoping to achieve that, putting it all in place.
'The Vicar Street South idea is going to be very good for Gorey, and it'll bring a lot of business in all around the area. We hope that people will stay and eat in the local restaurants, and it'll have a huge knock on affect for all.
'We've held quite an amount of meetings, and we've been talking about this for six months doing behind the scenes negotiations,' said Paddy.
Minister Michael D'Arcy said that amenities in the town will need to be improved to accommodate this ambitious project.
'We will need a lot more of everything, and we need to start thinking about these things to plan it out and implement the plan but let's get the package over the line first.
'All amenities in the town will have to be improved to accommodate this but everywhere will see the benefits.
'I've put a lot of work into this over the last six months and this isn't going to be a three year build, so by Easter 2021 we can have the project over the line.
'This fully funded package is now in place contingent upon the conclusion of the local authority process. It will encompass three key targets that I consider extremely important.
'The building will always remain in public ownership, and the historical relevance of the structure will remain intact, and finally this project will ensure community use.
'Work can get under way within three months, and the project will be completed in March 2021.
'Based upon the successful Vicar Street venue in Dublin, the performance area will be accessed by the Market House on the Main Street and also from Market Square,' said Minister D'Arcy.
The variety of uses for the venue ranges from small scale concerts, musicals, art exhibitions, trade conventions and cultural community events.
Michael D'Arcy described the project as a game-changer for Gorey and Wexford and although previously he said that 50 jobs would be created, he now sees that more than 100 jobs within the hospitality industry will come directly and indirectly from the development.
'The local business community and Chamber of Commerce have previously valued this project to the Gorey area at a potential estimate of €30 million per annum, with the additional benefits of huge increase in footfall in the town centre.
'Ultimately, this important project will facilitate the continued development of Gorey as a thriving town, and provide a boost to the local economy.
'I expect 100 jobs from different sectors will be created'.
He said that he is satisfied that the time-line will be achievable, but that it will have to work quickly.
'We decided this was the best structure to present after very positive and interesting meetings. All concerned are satisfied, and they come from very different backgrounds and I thought it was important to have local input, with more hands on deck.
'Everyone thinks that this is going to be a really important infrastructural development.'
In February 2019, it was announced that funding of €429,145 was to be made available to Wexford County Council by the Department of Rural and Community Development towards the redevelopment of Gorey Market House as part of the Project Ireland 2040 Rural Regeneration Development Fund.
Wexford County Council has stated on numerous occasions that it is committed towards the development and has set aside the sum of €2 million towards the project's construction costs.
In a statement to this newspaper, a spokesperson said that Wexford County Council will issue a call for expressions of interests this month.
'Market soundings have indicated that there may be interest from the private sector to fund the design and construction of a multi event performance venue in Gorey. Wexford County Council will issue a call for expressions of interest seeking proposals for same in January 2020,' said the Council spokesperson.
Although all involved said that the reaction to this most recent announcement has been positive, Leas Cathoirleach of Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District Joe Sullivan described the announcement as 'somewhat pre-mature'.
'I would be supportive of the Market House plans, but there has been no consultation with councillors and we have been totally left in the dark in relation to this on a local level'.
Gorey TD Malcolm Byrne agreed that there may be obstacles ahead.
'There are a still a significant number of hurdles to be crossed, including the need to ensure a proper management structure. However, the planned venue has the ability to be a major asset in the South East.
'The Market House must continue to remain in public ownership, and the partnership between the Redmonds and the Council will ensure that. It should be noted that these are the parties bringing the money to the table'.