€7m. business innovation hub plan for Imperial Hotel

THE former Imperial Hotel in Castlebar is earmarked for redevelopment as a business innovation hub, involving an estimated investment of €7 million.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Mayo County Council in collaboration with two partners, the GMIT iHub and Western Development Commission.

The proposals are part of an overall masterplan to develop the county town's historic core.

Mayo County Council has submitted two significant capital projects for funding in Castlebar under the second call for the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund – the historic core and military barracks. Combined, the projects are a potential game-changer for the town.

Detailed reports on both will come before local councillors when they meet tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

The historic core plan includes a park masterplan for the Mall, which also features an events strategy, with a total investment of €1.25m.

It is proposed to restore the old post office building, in partnership with Foróige, as a youth resource centre. This project has a cost of €2m.

Dereliction and vacancy is also addressed, with the report noting how Rock Square, Ellison Street and its backlands have suffered from prolonged vacancy and subsequent dereliction, aided in no small aprt by the prolonged recession since 2008.

As part of the submission, it is proposed to prepare a masterplan to stimulate private sector reuse and reactivation, and stimulate economic investments, while securing policy objectives such as promoting town centre living and pedestrian permeability.

This part of the overall plan involves a €1.3m investment.

The report concludes: This intervention will act as a catalyst to promote the regeneration and enhancement of Castlebar town centre. It will see the rejuvenation of the Imperial Hotel and Mall but also a holistic approach to the reuse and adaptation of other vacant buildings about Castlebar's historic core.

By virtue of the quality of the proposed initiative, it will enrich Castlebar's social, cultural, economic, built and historic fabric.

While the applications submitted are complementary, the separate Castlebar Military Barracks masterplan aims to transform the barracks into am inspiring civic space, visitor attraction and centre of excellence. Regionally it will be an important creativity hub and will provide a much-needed all-weather venue for festivals, events and local markets.

Through a mix of commercial, community and civic use, the 6.4 acre site can provide an anchor for the regeneration of Castlebar, the report states.