Demolition and site clearance work has begun on the €200m Opera site in Limerick, one of the biggest commercial development sites in the city's history.

The development was first suggested 17 years ago.

The four-acre site located in the city centre at the junction of Patrick and Ellen streets will include retail and apartment space, a new city library, commercial space for the Revenue commissioners in the city and an aparthotel will be developed over the next six years. 

The site clearance work over the next 12 months will include the demolition of all 20th-century buildings and additions and the adapted reuse of the protected Georgian structures and other structures of value on the streets involved.

The site is being developed by the Limerick Twenty Thirty LTT company, a special purpose company established by Limerick City and County Council in 2016, to stimulate economic and social development by building and promoting disused sites in Limerick.

In addition, a special unit at Limerick city and county council established two years ago to tackle derelict sites in the city has served its 100th compulsory purchase order CPO on unfinished and derelict sites in the city and county. 

The objective of the unit is to deal with unfinished sites left in a derelict condition and to allow towns and villages to be renewed with affordable housing.

The Opera site is fully funded through the European Investment bank. 

LTT has also developed the Gardens International site in the city, and Troy studios in Castletroy, both of which are fully let. 

The company is also developing the former Cleeves site, a ten-acre riverside site located on O'Callaghan Strand.

Mayor of Limerick Cllr Michael Collins welcomed the news that demolition work had finally begun 17 years after the seeds of the investment were first sown. 

He said: "Every city in Ireland and across the world is dealing with a health crisis but also lasting economic challenges from Covid-19 but the Opera development will have a scale of impact very few cities will have in terms of springboard  out of it."

Dee Ryan CEO of Limerick Chamber said: "From a business perspective this is a huge boost to Limerick. 

"It will be an invitation to FDI to indigenous business to look at Limerick and once they do they will see a city very much open for business forward-thinking and a great place to live and work.

Ms Ryan added: "Even if the world of work is changing and there will be blended working like never before, there is still going to be a requirement for office and commercial space and we can offer that at world class standards that is very competitively priced."