Progress slow on replacement of Black Box

The Black Box: demolition plans will take time.

The development of a multi-million euro ‘cultural hub’ on the Dyke Road has been slowed down by the “matrix of legislation and strategies” to which Galway City Council must adhere.

That’s according to a spokesperson for the local authority who said this “significant cultural development” would be a lasting legacy of the city’s successful European Capital of Culture bid.

Plans for the site include the demolition of the ‘past its sell-by date’ Black Box Theatre – replacing it with a performance space to cater for 1,200 seated occupants.

“This is a significant cultural development on this site which would include a cultural building to allow for the replacement of the Black Box but also incorporate a visual arts space and a production administration space,” said the Council spokesperson.

Plans for the area have been under consideration since Galway achieved the designation as European Capital of Culture 2020 last summer.

However, the spokesperson for the council said progress has been slow due to the strict process the Council must follow before seeking expressions of interest – but confirmed that it is their intention to do so in the last quarter of 2017.

“The difficulty we have is that this is a huge and complicated procurement process – Galway City Council will formally proceed with calling for expressions of interest before year end.

“It has been delayed by onerous obligations for due diligence under the procurement processes,” he said.

There are several factors affecting the pace of the process including its potential impact on the Galway Transportation Strategy, the City Development Plan and environmental concerns – this due to its location adjacent to the Corrib.

The construction of this facility would mean the loss of some of the approximate 540 spaces that make up the largest City Council-owned carpark on the Dyke Road.

Car parking fines and fees are a major source of income for City Hall and bring in over €4 million per annum.

However, it is planned that a new multi-level carpark will maintain, and possibly increase, the number of spaces.

The Council spokesperson confirmed that the original plans had not changed and that both the construction of the cultural facility and the carpark were part of a single project.

“We are looking at the entire site as a whole,” he said.

Councillor, Pádraig Conneely, Chairperson of the Arts and Culture SPC in Galway City Council, welcomed the fact that expressions of interest were to be sought this year and said he had no doubt that this would attract a considerable response.

“I am confident that there will be a big take-up and that reputable and good companies will come forward.

“I have no doubt that there will be many expressions of interest – this is a major project for the city and it will create a lot of employment.

“The Dyke Road and that general area needs to be upgraded and this will be a good project and very worthwhile for the city,” added the Fine Gael councillor.