David Conway is CEO of Limerick Twenty Thirty DAC (LTT). Based in Limerick David reveals to IIBN that LTT is a wholly owned property development company of Limerick city and county council that plan and develops key strategic sites in Limerick City & County so that they will act as an anchor for enterprise and investment development across Limerick.
You can visit the LTT website here www.limerick2030.ie
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
To develop strategic sites in Limerick with the main focus currently on our large scale sites in Limerick, the Opera Site development and the Cleeves Riverside Quarter. The Opera Site is most advanced, with planning achieved for a 4acre, circa €200m development with office, library, restaurants and residential. The Cleeves Riverside Quarter is advancing to master planning stage, which commences shortly. It’s a 10 acre, circa €350m project that will be mixed office, with residential and visitor/educational development.
What are your biggest challenges?
Major property developments of the scale and standard we are embarking on take time to deliver. There’s the master planning stage, stakeholder/community engagement, which is a must as you must bring people with you, there’s the planning process, procurement, etc. It’s certainly not a sprint but when you are building scale and something of the highest international standards – we’ve set the benchmark very high for ourselves in that regard, it’s going to take time.
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
While the outcome of Covid-19 is still uncertain, I do believe there will continue to be strong demand for office and residential property but the requirements will have changed in terms of design, layouts, improved technological requirements and the use of space so we are very much mindful of that.
What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
Covid-19 and its long-term impact is the biggest challenge and its effect on property development.
What new trends are emerging in your industry?
There is a large move to sustainability of the built environment in terms of NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building), WELL…etc. If you want to get the best tenants, you have to build to the best standards and sustainability is at the core of that. That’s what we are doing. It’s about adopting new building technology and building materials and, of course, good quality design will always be a requirement.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
A move to the regions in Ireland, especially Limerick. Limerick provides a great alternative and opportunity to large scale FDI companies moving into Ireland and Europe. Limerick has a large educated work force, three third level institutions, excellent access through Shannon Airport, a superb port infrastructure through Shannon Foynes Port, it’s a very affordable city in terms of employees and provides excellent quality of life with great recreational and living spaces. There’s so much on the doorstep here, from what we have in the city itself and its fantastic culture to being a gateway to the West of Ireland. People who come here stay and that’s the big positive.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
I don’t see any major skills gap but see a lot of great talent returning and establishing themselves in Limerick for the great working opportunities and quality of life. That started to happen a few years back but with the unprecedented level of announcements of FDI, in particular, over the past five years or so, it’s happening more and more.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
I see BREXIT as an opportunity for the company and Limerick. We have a really brilliant offering as a city and region in terms of quality of life, affordability, etc. We believe we will be the most competitive English speaking city in the EU in the post Brexit era and Limerick Twenty Thirty will play a key role in that by developing world-class mixed development sites that offer FDI companies an opportunity to establish themselves into Europe.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Completing a project on time and within budget is success in the narrowest terms but, at a wider level, success to us is having a major impact on the regional economy. We want to be synonymous with success and we’ve set the bar high for ourselves and are already delivering, thanks to our first major project, Gardens International, which was delivered on time, in budget, is 96% let and won a range of awards within months of completion. That sets the tone for what we want to achieve.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
There have been a number over the years but two stand out. One is ‘the issue is never the issue’, which basically says that you have to dig deep to solve the real issue. A second one is surround yourself with a good, talented and committed team.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
The development of Gardens International 100,000 sq. ft of LEED Gold office development, under budget and to win numerous building awards including ‘Design Project of the Year’ at the KPMG Irish Independent Property Industry Excellent Awards 2019.
What’s next for your company?
We are going to consolidate the work we have being doing for the last three years and to become a transformational development body delivering a Limerick into the future, starting with the iconic Opera Site project, the biggest inner city mixed-use development outside the capital.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?
Start delivering both the Opera site, work on which begins in Q4; the Cleeves Riverside Quarter, on which we are about to begin master planning and looking for additional projects that will help with the ongoing transformation of the economy of Limerick.
Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Synonymous with best-in-class. LTT will be delivering viable projects that deliver value for Limerick citizens by creating employment and a great place to live. And projects also that make a regional impact, helping to balance the national economy in line with Project Ireland 2040.