Transformation at Shannon Free Zone outlined

Hats off to new developments at Shannon Free Zone... pictured at Dromoland Castle Hotel (from left): Kevin Thompstone, president, Shannon Chamber; Ray O’Driscoll, managing director, Shannon Commercial Properties; and Eoin Mc Manus, business director, Three. Photo: Eamon Ward


The Shannon Free Zone is set to be transformed over the next ten years as work commences on revitalising one of Ireland’s oldest and largest business parks, outside Dublin.


Outlining phase one of the redevelopment programme at a Shannon Chamber lunch for business leaders in Dromoland Castle Hotel, Shannon Commercial Properties managing director Ray O’Driscoll said: “We are addressing the historic underinvestment at the Free Zone in stages, commencing with major demolitions, new builds and refurbishment, as we believe a cluster-type development is more impactful.”


Plans for the over €21 million, phase-one redevelopment of a 12-acre site at the Zone include: the construction of a 40,000 ft2 Grade A office block and a new 30,000 ft2 advance technology manufacturing unit, at a combined cost of €10 million; A €4 million upgrade and development of the existing Boart building, which is a 100,000 ftwarehousing unit adjoining the airport, and a €1.5 million upgrade at Shannon Airport House and the adjacent Universal House.


Among work undertaken to-date on the redevelopment are: the demolition of three former manufacturing buildings which are now complete; Work has begun on a €6 million 67,000 ft2 technology manufacturing facility at Shannon Free Zone East for GE Measurement & Control, and a €1.3 million refurbishment of a 56,000 ft2 office and warehousing facility located in the Shannon Free Zone West is now complete.


Addressing attendees, Mr O’Driscoll added: “The Shannon Free Zone already hosts 120 companies in a diverse range of activities.  It has been a major contributor to the local economy and this first phase of what will be a major, ongoing investment programme is an imperative to attracting major investment and jobs to the area.”


This sentiment was endorsed by IDA’s regional business development executive Fiona Reilly who, speaking from the audience, told attendees that the new IDA regional strategy has set a target of a 30-40% uplift in projects to get into the regions while Enterprise Ireland’s Jerry Moloney said that providing incubation space at the Free Zone would be its defining strength for high-potential SMEs.


Shannon Chamber’s president Kevin Thompstone, contrasting the scenario whereby a property portfolio previously managed by Shannon Development with a brief for regional economic development is being transformed into a set of assets managed by Shannon Commercial Properties with a clear commercial mandate focussed mainly on growing Shannon, endorsed the fact that Shannon is very much open for business: “Shannon already has a diverse range of sectors in situ and now, with new facilities coming on stream that will be built to a very high specification, Shannon Commercial  Properties is equipping Shannon with an even greater set of competencies to attract new business to the region.”


Eoin Mc Manus, business director at the event sponsor Three spoke of the importance of integrating next generation communications infrastructure as part of the redevelopment programme at Shannon Free Zone adding: “Three is delivering a suite of networking products to its wide customer base in the region and is very much on target to giving every site 4G access by 2017.”