OVER a decade after the Franciscan Order donated the prime facility to the people of Killarney, the Áras Phádraig building on Lewis Road is now finally and officially in the ownership of Kerry County Council, KillarneyToday.com can confirm.
Following years of legal wrangling and protracted negotiations with third parties, it was revealed this Wednesday that the local authority has taken full ownership of the property and plans can now be advanced for the development of the prime site.
Killarney Town Manager, Angela McAllen, informed councillors this morning that ownership has now been transferred and a senior council engineer had already been assigned to prepare proposals for the development of the building and surrounding land.
A preliminary report is expected in the coming months but among the proposals that had been proposed were a multi-storey car park and an arts centre and theatre.
The Franciscans donated the entire 2,623sq m Aras Phádraig complex to the town council in 2009 but a legal hitch – when the Charities Regulatory Authority insisted that the local authority could not be considered a charity – resulted in the building being off-limits.
Built in 1960 and substantially extended in the mid 1980s, the Áras Phádraig had previously been a busy social centre for concerts, plays, classes and other gatherings and the main hall was also used as a local elections count centre.
The complex, now in need of extensive modernisation if not demolition, currently houses a theatre-style hall and balcony, several meeting rooms, changing facilities a multi-purpose area and a spacious kitchen.
A business plan for the Aras, commissioned by the council and published in 2017, suggested that a likely key factor in its success would be the identification of two anchor tenants with the capacity to provide a secure annual income to support the development.
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