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Designers to be appointed for fit-out of Crown Square


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Designers to be appointed for fit-out of Crown Square Designers to be appointed for fit-out of Crown Square

The appointment of a team of consultants to design the layout of the new Galway City Council offices at Crown Square in Mervue is imminent.

The “integrated design team” – including engineers, architects and interior designers – will be appointed from the private sector following a procurement process.

At a Council meeting last week, management at City Hall insisted the move from College Road to the new headquarters in Crown, was still on course to proceed by quarter four of next year.

Brian Barrett, Director of Services, confirmed that he hoped staff will have transferred to the new offices before Christmas 2024. This was a revised deadline from the original following delays to the project since city councillors voted to approve a loan to buy the office block shell in July of last year.

On Monday, councillors expressed concerns about progress.

Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab) said it was now almost a year since the sale of the building went through, but a design team hadn’t been appointed. He asked what input the people of Galway would have in the design of the city’s new civic building, and he said more information was required from the Council executive.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) – whose sister lives opposite the Crown site – said she visits there several times a day and hasn’t seen any building or other activity. “When will it be fitted out?” she asked.

Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) wanted clarity on whether the design team was internal or an outside team and she asked had it been budgeted for.

Independent councillor, Donal Lyons, said he was concerned there would be a big chunk taken out of the Council budget in 2024, to repay the loan that was approved to buy the building, but the move would not be happening until the end of next year.

Mr Barrett said there had been some activity on site, including staff from developer JJ Rhatigan, who were completing a snag list.

Work on fit-out would commence early next year once the design was completed following the procurement this month of a team of engineers, architects and interior designers. This cost had been budgeted for, he said, and it was not an internal design team because resources were not available.

He said the public will be invited to do an online survey outlining their interaction with the current City Hall which will be used in the design.

Council staff have visited new offices in Meath, Roscommon and Kildare and will use the information garnered from those trips to advise the design team about their needs for the layout of the new offices, he said.

In July last year, councillors approved a loan of €45.5m to buy the shell. The deal closed in December, and the Council paid €44.39m.

The total price for the job was estimated at €56.5m, with Council reserves bridging the gap between the end-price and loan drawn-down.

Initially, councillors were told that loan repayments to the State’s Housing Finance Agency would be about €2 million every year over 30 years, with a fixed interest rate of between 2% and 2.5%.

Since then, Head of Finance Helen Kilroy confirmed that instead of 30 years, the loan term was now 40 years, with a fixed rate of 1.95%.

This gives annual repayments of €1.6m.

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