The Rialto Digital & Enterprise Hub, Nenagh is one of the projects for which funding under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF) was announced by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD on 6th January 2022.
The funding under Category 2 of the Rural Regeneration Development Fund will allow the project to be progressed through design and planning and brought to the point where an application can be made for Category 1 funding to carry out the works.
The main focus of allocations under this fund is the rejuvenation of town centres, driving economic growth and footfall, combatting dereliction and boosting tourism in Rural Ireland.
The former Rialto Cinema, which is a protected structure, was acquired by Tipperary County Council in December 2020. The ‘Rialto Digital and Enterprise Hub’ project is an exemplar sustainable, town centre regeneration project that will engage in place-making and revitalise the town centre of Nenagh through provision of much needed incubator enterprise space, public realm enhancement and the redevelopment of a back-land brownfield site through planning for the delivery of town centre homes.
A masterplan will plot the sustainable re-imagining of the iconic 1940’s cinema building into a modern digital and enterprise hub facility using best practice and appropriate modern architectural intervention to provide excellent office, collaboration and meeting spaces. The associated brownfield site will be master-planned to explore the potential for further digital and enterprise office space, the creation of a new streetscape along Emmet Place, the potential provision of town centre residential units and the delivery of a new public amenity heart in the town centre.
The total cost of this phase of the project is €1,511,059 of which €1,208,847 will come from the RRDF.
The Nenagh RRDF application was submitted by Tipperary County Council in partnership with the Nenagh & District Chamber of Commerce, North Tipperary Development Company and the Local Enterprise Office.
Welcoming the funding announcement, Cllr. Michael O’ Meara, Cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District, said “this project will become a fourth pillar in the proposals for the Historic & Cultural Quarter of Nenagh and will complement the substantial investment in the public realm and infrastructure of the town. The proposals will be transformational for the town centre while still ensuring that the heritage architecture of the former Rialto is maintained and that a vacant iconic building is brought back into productive use. With changes in working practices, there is a growing demand for co-working and smarter working spaces. The Rialto is an ideal location for this purpose and will generate significant footfall that will benefit local businesses as well as facilitating local enterprise”.
The ‘Nenagh Workspace Study’, commissioned by Nenagh Municipal District in 2018 highlighted the absence of co-working, incubation and remote working space in Nenagh and its hinterlands and identified that this was a significant inhibitor to economic growth in Nenagh and the region. Director of Services for Nenagh Municipal District, Marcus O’ Connor, said the project would make a significant contribution to Nenagh and the District in terms of employment, facilitating jobs both directly and indirectly. “The purchase of the Rialto by Tipperary County Council has enabled this project to be developed. The funding announcement will allow us to progress the project which has the potential to generate an on-going return to the local economy as well as preventing dereliction in a prominent town centre location”.
The next steps will be the procurement of a team of consultants to progress the completion of the detailed design and the Part 8 planning process.