27 Sept 2022

Tipperary to have innovative enterprise and digital hub on former cinema site

Tipperary to have innovative enterprise and digital hub on former cinema site

The proposed enterprise and digital hub at the former Rialto cinema site in Nenagh

There has been a broad welcome for the news tat Nenagh’s proposed digital hub and enterprise centre on the former Rialto cinema site is to receive €1.2m in funding.

The announcement was made last week by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.

Welcoming the funding announcement, Cllr. Michael O’ Meara, Cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District, said: “This project will become a fourth pillar in the proposals for the historic and cultural quarter of Nenagh and will complement the substantial investment in the public realm and infrastructure of the town.”

He said that the proposals will be transformational for the town centre while still ensuring that the heritage architecture of the former Rialto was maintained and that a vacant iconic building was brought back into productive use.

“With changes in working practices, there is a growing demand for co-working and smarter working spaces. The Rialto is an ideal location for this purpose and will generate significant footfall that will benefit local businesses as well as facilitating local enterprise,” said Cllr O’Meara.

The news was also welcomed by local TD Deputy Alan Kelly who said he was delighted that €1.2m had been approved for the site. This also included plans for a complete redevelopment of the site behind the hub, a new streetscape and public amenity area.

Local councillor Seamus Morris praised the team behind the plans.

“The Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF) and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) team of Martin Walsh, Rosemary Joyce and Marcus O’Connor are putting together top class applications which are getting over the line successfully due, of course, with their ability to work with State bodies like Fáilte Ireland and our planning team,” he said.

Cllr Morris said that Nenagh was “lucky” to have such skilled, innovative operators and this was putting Nenagh ahead of other applications.

The Independent councillor said that the funding will add to the €800,000 consultants’ brief for the town’s historical and cultural quarter and the €10m national centre of excellence for sustainable energy and Martyrs Road and the recent purchase of the Lisbunny Industrial Estate by the municipal district and also the opening of the new innovative tourist office.

Fine Gael senator Garrett Ahearn said that he wanted to acknowledge the excellent work by the chief executive of Tipperary County Council Joe MacGrath and Nenagh district manager Marcus O’Connor for putting the application forward and party colleague Cllr Ger Darcy for pushing this project politically with Minister Humphreys and other Ministers whenever they visited Nenagh or Tipperary.

“This will be a positive addition to Nenagh along with the announcement last March of over €9m for the town under the Urban Regeneration development Fund,” he said.

The funding was also welcomed by Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.

Director of Services for Nenagh Municipal District, Marcus O’Connor, said the project would make a significant contribution to Nenagh and the district in terms of employment, facilitating jobs both directly and indirectly.

“The purchase of the Rialto by Tipperary County Council has enabled this project to be developed. The funding announcement will allow us to progress the project which has the potential to generate an on-going return to the local economy as well as preventing dereliction in a prominent town centre location,” he said.

The former Rialto cinema, which is a protected structure, was acquired by Tipperary County Council in December 2020.

A masterplan will plot the sustainable re-imagining of the iconic 1940’s cinema building into a modern digital and enterprise hub facility to provide office, collaboration and meeting spaces. The associated brownfield site will be master-planned to explore the potential for further digital and enterprise office space, the creation of a new streetscape along Emmet Place, the potential provision of town centre residential units and the delivery of a new public amenity heart in the town centre.

The total cost of this phase of the project is €1,511,059 of which €1,208,847 will come from the RRDF.

The Nenagh RRDF application was submitted by Tipperary County Council in partnership with the Nenagh & District Chamber of Commerce, North Tipperary Development Company and the Local Enterprise Office.

The next steps will be the procurement of a team of consultants to progress the completion of the detailed design and the Part 8 planning process.

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