02 Jul 2022

Phase one of Kilkenny's Abbey Quarter officially opened

Minister Darragh O'Brien visits site today


A CGI image of the proposed Abbey Quarter site

The public realm surrounding the Brewhouse building on the Abbey Quarter, namely Horse Barrack Lane and The Brewhouse Square have been officially opened by Minister Darragh O’ Brien, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Speaking at the event, Cathaoirleach Fidelis Doherty said she was delighted to be there for the public viewing of what is a 'game changing Phase 1' of a €200 million regeneration project for Kilkenny City, enhancing the entire area for both local people and visitors. 

"Following the decision by Diageo Ireland in 2012 to close the Smithwick’s Brewery, Kilkenny County Council agreed to purchase the 10.9 acre site of the former Brewery," she said.

"The brewery operated on the site from 1710.  The Master Plan for the redevelopment of the former Brewery site was approved by Elected Members of Kilkenny County Council in July 2015 following a period of extensive public consultation.  The site is being redeveloped in accordance with the Urban Design Code which will see up to 35% of the development becoming homes, which are much needed.

"This is a special site that is rich in history located beside the River Nore with a view of the 12th century Kilkenny Castle and overlooked by St. Canice’s Cathedral and along Ireland’s Medieval Mile.  The challenge in developing this site has always been to respect the work of past generations while allowing ourselves the opportunity to meet the needs of future generations”.

Phase 1 of the Abbey Quarter development includes the Riverside Garden, Skateboard Park, Horse Barrack Lane, Brewhouse Square,  the 19 Century Tea  Houses, Mayfair Building  as the new City Library and the Brewhouse Building for office use.

The development of the Riverside Garden including the Skateboard Park along the river front provide an area of high quality green infrastructure in the city centre.  This project was officially opened in June 2021 and won the Overall National Award in the Urban Land Institute Excellence in Placemaking Awards for 2021.

Phase 2 of the project will include the development of a new Urban Street & Park, which will open up access to facilitate the development of new buildings on the site, with the first two of these buildings to be developed during Phase 2.  The Urban Park, measuring approx. 2 acres in size, will be centred around the upstanding remains of St. Francis Abbey and will create a vibrant focal point within the Abbey Quarter.  The Urban Street, which will be of pedestrian and cyclist priority, will be the ‘spine’ of the Abbey Quarter providing access to the new buildings.  This project will commence in late 2022.

Minister Darragh O’ Brien said the development of the Abbey Quarter is an exemplar of Town Centre First, and is bringing workers and residents into the heart of the city to support existing businesses, improve footfall and vibrancy.

"The public realm is funded through my Department under the Urban Regional Development Fund and  the European Regional Development Fund and matched with local funding by  Kilkenny County Council,"  he said.

"What makes the project special is the relationship between the council and its public projects and the Abbey Quarter Partnership and its commercial developments. It is great example of organisations focussing on what they are good at, working in partnership to ensure the seamless delivery of projects in a sustainable manner”.

Sarah Hickey, Senior Investment Manager at the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), said: 

“Regional development is a priority investment theme for ISIF and the Abbey Quarter is an excellent example of what can be achieved in regional cities and towns by our ‘double bottom line’ mandate of investing for a commercial return while supporting economic activity and employment in Ireland.  

"We are particularly pleased that this investment will enhance our strong track record in sustainable investment, with the Brewhouse Building being developed to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Standard. We are also excited at the immense potential for new homes on this site, with ISIF having already committed approximately €1bn to date to improve the supply of new homes throughout Ireland. 

"It is encouraging to see our partnership with KCC progressing so well and we are looking forward to continuing this partnership as we look to support the next phases of development at the Abbey Quarter.”

Jason Clerkin, Chief Executive of the Abbey Quarter Development Ltd said the next building to be developed in the Abbey  Quarter (subject to Planning)  will be a new 5,176m2 mixed- use building comprising mixed-use retail and office space at ground floor.  

"The building will complete the boundary of the Brewhouse Square with access to the building also from the Urban Street," he said.

Colette Byrne, Chief Executive, Kilkenny County Council said works are currently under way on the Mayfair building.

"Its walls could tell many stories. It was acquired by Smithwick’s for office use until its closure in 2014," she said.

"The Mayfair will be converted into a modern public library for Kilkenny and will open in early 2023. High quality public infrastructure is important for quality of life. The public realm opened today will become home to many of Kilkenny Festivals,  spaces nestled between Kilkenny Castle and St. Canices Cathedral. I look forward to seeing how our creative Festivals will use these spaces over the coming years."

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