Cleeves Riverside Campus

The 8-acre former Cleeves factory site is located on the northern bank of the River Shannon. The site, measuring 8 acres approx is divided into 2 sections, which straddle both sides of the North Circular Road/O’Callaghan Strand. The site has been in industrial use since its construction in the mid-nineteenth century. Containing a number of its original stone buildings, its chimney structure that dominates the city skyline. 

The site was purchased in 2015 by Limerick City and County Council and is zoned City Centre (Commercial) in the Limerick City Development Plan 2010 with the specific objective:

“To support the retention and expansion of a wide range of commercial, cultural, leisure and residential use in the commercial core area, (apart from comparison retail uses).”

Given the location and size of the site and the building contained on it, it is considered that the site is ideally suited to a mix of uses, including education, tourism, residential use, incubation/innovation space and commercial office use. This reflects not just the site’s zoning objective but also its location adjacent to the river and the core retail area as well as the existing structures on the site.

A development framework is currently being prepared for the site.

Capacity: Eight acre site, up to 1,500 jobs 
Stage: Master plan

Background and history to the site:

The main tower and building on the site are protected structures and are also on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage which describes them as:

“A vast early industrial building complex, dominated by a massive limestone factory building, the monolithic scale of which casts a strong presence on the west bank of the River Shannon. It was originally built to make agricultural equipment and is now used as a dairy processing building. The 1872 edition of the Limerick City Ordnance Survey identifies this site as the Lansdowne Spinning Mill, which was built by the Russell family. It was later taken over by the Cleeves family who embarked on the construction of the condensory building. The factory's continued industrial use and dominating presence marks it as a landmark building within Limerick City, particularly as seen from Sarsfield Bridge.”

(Buildings of Ireland)

The Cleeves site has an industrial history, which has played an important role in the development of Limerick city and its people. Originally constructed in the 1850’s as a flax mill, Thomas Cleeve started a new enterprise on the site in 1883 in the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland, manufacturing dairy products, including condensed milk, butter, cheese and confectionery. At its production peak in the early 1900’s the facility employed 2,000 people with produce contracts placed with 3,000 farms in the region. The condensed milk and toffee products were exported around the world. Golden Vale operated at this site until its closure in June 2011.

The site has incorporated alternative uses due to the high floor to ceiling heights in the building. The site to the south was formerly a ship building yard with the former slipway now the line where the Shannon Bridge passes over.  The warehouse buildings that are organised along the North Circular Road edge of the site have been used for the EV+A International Biennale art exhibition to great success, with the site currently in use and accommodating a variety of cultural activities. Limerick City and County Council recently purchased the Cleeves site.

The site is identified in the Limerick 2030 An Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick as a transformational project ideally suited to an urban science and technology park. In terms of developmental potential, the site is capable in principle of supporting a range of activities. Given the location and size of the site and the building contained on the site, it is considered that the site is ideally suited to a mix of uses that reflects not just its zoning objective but also its location adjacent to the river and the core retail area as well as the existing structures on the site.

To date, interest has been expressed by one third level institution in developing a faculty on the site that would complement the development of a tourist destination attraction. Such uses would be considered “good fits” for the site and would also allow for other complementary uses to be developed on the site. The site is therefore considered to have the potential to accommodate the following range of uses:

  • Education – the site can easily accommodate a small / medium sized faculty.
  • Tourism destination – the iconic tower and adjacent building has potential to house a significant attraction which would add to attractiveness of the city as an investment location.
  • Residential use – the site is sufficiently large to accommodate the above uses and a residential component the nature of which would have the appropriate social mix.
  • Incubation / innovation space – such a space would support the educational use.
  • Commercial office use.