County Council Chief Executive Tom Enright has revealed ambitious plans for a €35 million development of the iconic Trinity Wharf site.
The county council, which recently bought the site from NAMA for €800,000, a 10th of its value a decade ago, is planning to establish a high-quality business park there, creating at least 1,000 new jobs, a 'modest' hotel, restaurants, cafes, pubs, residential units, a public park and possibly a marina.
The project will be a 'less dense' and more jobs friendly version of the development than the Celtic Tiger project that years ago had been planned for the 10-acre brownfield site by business magnate Derry McPhilips, but which never came to fruition.
Read more here: Original plan for the wharf was a child of the Celtic Tiger
Mr Enright said the council project will be the biggest of its kind ever in Wexford and will raise the bar in terms of employment. The development will be delivered through a public-private partnership arrangement and the council had already had initial discussions with a number of potential investors and the IDA.
'If we do this right, we will have significant interest in it, in terms of companies and investors,' said Mr Enright, adding that improving roads infrastructure, such as the Enniscorthy Bypass, contracted the distance between Dublin, where the cost of office space is rapidly rising, and Wexford, which already had many things to attract new firms, but needed centrally-located, 'key ready' developments.
'We need to get the look, the feel and the environment right.'
He said that while the Trinity Wharf development would be the flagship project for Wexford, there were also plans in the pipeline for major developments in the other three county towns, although he did not reveal any details.
Mr Enright said there was a need in the town to create a environment to attract major investment and high value companies from Dublin and further afield, and the creation of a large-scale clustered corporate office space at Trinity Wharf would fulfil their requirements.
He said a lot of the buildings built for businesses around Wexford were isolated, whereas what was needed was a high-quality cluster development, close to and accessible from the town.
An example of how this will work is that Trinity Wharf will be connected to the existing Quays, which are due to get a €2 million revamp and will be more connected to main street Wexford, via a new boardwalk.
The 'modest, high quality hotel' for the wharf development would be some way down the line and only when there is additional demand for hotel bed nights in the town.
'We're very much planning for the future.
'The main purpose of the site is to deliver a proper, quality business park for the town,' said Mr Enright, who since taking up his position in Wexford in 2014 has expressed the need for such a large-scale corporate, clustered office space.
He described Trinity Wharf as an iconic site in a wonderful location and said he had received some very positive reactions from potential investors who had 'walked it'.
'We want to create an environment in which people want to be,' said Mr Enright. It will not be cluttered with cars. It will have some parking, although most cars will be accommodated outside the main site itself.
Mr Enright said there were a number of companies that were planning to expand and while there was currently nowhere for them to go, the site would be perfect for them. It would attract internationally0traded service companies with their high value, well-paid jobs, with those involved in the insurance industry or financial services, considered a particularly good fit.
'What were doing is the master plan for the site with roads, car parking, and other infrastructure and will be seeking expressions of interest from the private sector who will be offered guaranteed lease rates over time,' said Mr Enright who said he thought the project could be under way towards the end of the year.
'We hope to be starting the main elements of the site within 18 months to two years. Once the master plan has been agreed we will seek expressions of interest from the private sector.
'We will have to be very careful.. we're not in the business of relocating companies.. there have to be additional jobs coming in that will bring more investment, more spending..'
'More often than not, companies are under time pressure to establish their presence quickly and get up and running. They require readily available, attractive, cost-effective, large-scale modern office facilities and Trinity Wharf will meet of of those criteria,' said Mr Enright.
Read more here: Trinity Wharf plan a 'game changer'
He said the construction sector would also benefit from the scheme, with 200-plus construction workers being required.
He said the 1,000-plus 'office' jobs that will be created at Trinity Wharf was achievable over the next few years.
'If you look at the South East Action Plan for Jobs, there will be 25,000 jobs created in the South East over the next five years and we should be getting a significant proportion of them in Wexford.. I am very confident that we will get 1,000 additional jobs here.'
Talking about the social aspect of Trinity Wharf, Mr Enright said it needed to be a place that was available to the public to use.
'It's not going to be gated where people will be excluded.'
Road access across the Wexford- to Rosslare railway line is likely to be a level crossing rather than across a bridge that had been planned as part of the previous scheme.
The council is shortly to appoint consultants to prepare the overall masterplan.