A NEW creative quarter for the city of Kilkenny is to be created with the potential for up to 1,000 jobs with the closure of St Francis Abbey Brewery (formerly Smithwicks).
Ambitious plans have been unveiled for the development of a Knowledge and Business Quarter on the 13 acre site by the banks of the river nore and in the centre of the medieval core of Kilkenny.
The proposals for a new 3rd level research and enterprise campus, a major new park and garden and for a new knowledge and creative quarter are ideal strategies for the economic, social and community development of Kilkenny, to the highest international standards were welcomed by Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Martin Brett at a joint meeting of Kilkenny local authorities. He said the site is of strategic importance to the people of Kilkenny and a means for major city centre renewal and regeneration. “The principles of conservation, sustainability, public realm improvement and urban design best practice will govern the development,” he said.
The plan includes a new 3rd level research and development campus for the planned new Technological University of the South East; Office accommodation for corporate, creative and technology companies, residential and retail space, five new public realms and a major new city centre garden/park of international standard
The successful TSSG/Arc Lab facility, (Telecoms Software and System Group), a joint venture between the Kilkenny Local Authorities, Waterford and Carlow Institute of Technologies, will be located to the new 3rd level research and development campus. It is a hub for next generation internet development for companies in the finance, banking, insurance and agri-business sectors and was established at St Kieran’s College last year. It already employs more than 20 researchers.
Kilkenny local authorities agreed to buy the 13-acre Smithwick’s Brewery site from Diageo for €2.1 million last year. Diageo is to move the Smithwick’s brewing operation from Kilkenny to Dublin after 300 years in the city. They are developing a €3 million Visitor Centre on the site, due to open in 2014.
Chairman of Kilkenny County Council, Pat Dunphy, said with unemployment at 18% in the South East Region, it was important that major new attractive locations outside of Dublin, should be provided for foreign direct and national investment.
Joe Crockett, County and City Manager, “Many of the best locations in Dublin have now been utilised by major companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook and Kilkenny city centre now offers a perfect alternative – a cosmopolitan, beautiful and available location at a very competitive price for the corporate and creative sectors”.
He added that the combination of 3rd level facilities with all the attractions of Kilkenny city centre and with motorway connectivity was an exceptionally attractive proposition for incoming foreign direct investment.