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Concerns raised over funding of Dublin's City Library at Parnell Square

The project is expected to cost over €100 million.

90297717_90297717 Parnell Square in Dublin City Centre. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

FUNDRAISING FOR DUBLIN’S City Library at Parnell Square hasn’t progressed since July last year.

Real estate firm Kennedy Wilson is leading the philanthropic drive to fund the new cultural quarter on the city’s northside, first announced by Dublin City Council back in 2013. 

Independent councillor Vincent Jackson, who heads up the council’s Arts Committee, has said that concern has been growing around the council’s ambitious plan and the lack of fundraising progress. 

“It’s a huge concern,” says Jackson. “We’re obviously very anxious to go with this project. That’s a key component of the project, the financial viability.”

The estimated cost of the project rose from €60 million to €100 million since it was launched in September 2016. Yet construction inflation could push up those costs even more, Jackson has said. 

Meanwhile, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has said that as the project slowly progresses, a large portion of real estate sits idle. 

“You have an enormously important building up there. You’ve got people on our streets, a demand for housing and accommodation.

You’ve people occupying this, that and here’s DCC’s own massive building right beside the city centre.

A total of eight Georgian Houses will be refurbished as part of the City Library plan; Georgian houses numbers 20 and 21 will be redeveloped, along with houses 23 to 28, which were where the former Irish school Coláiste Mhuire was situated.

A music centre, design space, business library, conference space, education centre, café and exhibition area all form part of the library complex.

In total, the space will be 11,000 sqm and, if approved and funded, should be complete by 2023.

Parnell Sq. Source: Dublin City Council

Kennedy Wilson initially donated €2.5 million and agreed to help raise the rest. A planning application is currently with An Bord Pleanála with a decision expected in May.

The council has said that its agreement with Kennedy Wilson means that the firm has to raise a minimum of 51% of the project costs. To raise the remainder, the council plans take a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Kennedy Wilson will continue to fundraise beyond the €51 million in an effort to finance loan charges, the council said. “No works will commence until a minimum of 51% of the required funding has been raised in philanthropy,” a council spokesperson has said.

So far, €5 million has been committed to the project, they said. “Based on previous experience of similar projects internationally we are confident that the required minimum 55% in philanthropic funding will be achieved”.

“I think this project has huge potential for urban regeneration,” says Jackson. “The whole area will be transformed.”

However, he has said that the project is now likely to cost over €100 million given inflation and construction costs. “Without fear or hesitation,” says Jackson. “If this doesn’t start and if the fundraising process doesn’t start, I’d be worried about the overall cost in the long-term.”

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