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Plans for €110m Parnell Square cultural quarter facing major setback over lack of funding

The cost of the library was originally estimated to cost €60m but has since increased to €80m according to the latest reports.

Image: Dublin City Council

PLANS FOR A €110 million redevelopment of the Parnell Square area of Dublin city have been suspended over a lack of available funding. 

The project, coined the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter, would have seen eight Georgian townhouses transformed into a range of cultural facilities, including a music centre, a design space and a 200-seat conference space. 

Along with those facilities, the project was set to deliver an outdoor plaza, a cafe and an exhibition area, all designed to complement the existing cultural institutions of the area, including the Gate Theatre and the Hugh Lane Gallery. 

In a letter to councillors on Dublin City Council, however, Chief Executive Owen Keegan said he is now only proposing to develop the library and shelve the rest of the project for a later date. 

PastedImage-24744 Source: Twitter

The council initially agreed to fund 45% of the costs of the project with the remaining 55% being fundraised via private donations raised through the Parnell Square Foundation. 

Keegan said a report from consultants Kennedy Wilson indicated it could take another three years for the project, which is already seven years in the works, to secure enough funding to move forward. 

A spokesperson for Kennedy Wilson said it remains committed to the project, doubling a seed investment of €2.5 million to €5 million.

“We believe delivering the project in multiple smaller phases recognises the challenging conditions in the construction market and delivery of larger projects within time and budget constraints”

Library

He proposed that the project be split, with the council funding the library element and the foundation raising the funding for the other cultural elements. 

He suggested this was an appropriate course of action as “libraries have a lower affinity score with private donors than the arts generally” and the fact the “foundation has no previous donor base to act as project champions”.

The large-scale project has come in for criticism in the past from groups such as Inner City Helping Homeless, who said funding could be better spent being directed into other areas such as the housing crisis. 

Earlier this year, concerns for the pace at which the project was moving were also raised, with some councillors afraid delays would result in inflation pushing the project costs up further. 

The library was originally costed at €60 million but will now cost €80 million according to Keegan. 

He said a phased approach would be implemented, in which the council would assume responsibility for the library, and then proceed to public tender with it. 

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