Ibec plans ‘Munster Hub’ as it becomes latest to take up residence at Penrose Dock

December 10, 2020

Business body Ibec is set to expand and recruit new staff with a Q2 2021 move to landmark Cork city office development, JCD Group’s Penrose Dock.

A MOVE by Irish business representative body Ibec to a new ‘Munster hub’ in Cork’s Penrose Dock office development brings the €125m, 250,000 sq ft quayside scheme to 80% occupancy, rounding out an extraordinary year of construction completion and occupancy deals during a global pandemic.

Ibec this week confirmed its lease of 5,000 sq ft at Penrose Dock 1, joining a host of FDI tenants and some others with more indigenous roots such as Grant Thornton, at the John Cleary Developments scheme on Penrose Quay, aiming to take occupation in the second quarter of 2021.

In ramping up of employment and presence in Cork, Ibec is making a ‘generational’ occupancy and profile leap, from a mid-1800s period suburban Cork building, Knockrea House on a wooded acre on the main Douglas Rd, to the highest spec Cork office development to date, as the city’s quays and new business quarter transforms around it.

Ibec has owned and occupied Knockrea House for 45 years, under various guises including as FUE House. Knockrea House is the only property Ibec owns, as it leases it Dublin HQ and its six regional offices and Brussels base.

Currently a base for six permanent Ibec staff and used by other staff on a temporary needs basis, the 3,800 sq ft Knockrea House was briefly on the market in 2012 with a €1.25m via Lisney (which negotiated the move to floor two in Penrose Dock One for Ibec) and is expected to come for sale again in 2021, but most likely as a trophy Cork home.

Ibec chief operations officer and deputy chief executive Liam O’Donoghue said its move to Penrose Dock followed Covid-19-disrupted negotiations after heads of terms were agreed nearly a year ago with JCD, and after a visit to other JCD projects such as One Albert Quay. He said the extra space and expanding city location would assist Ibec in expanding its reach, and staff.

Ibec joins the likes of Varonis, Minelab, Remitly, Qualcomm, Sophos, Cloudera, and Grant Thornton, and Matheson, plus JCD’s own Flexispace, at the Wilson Architecture-designed Penrose Dock 1 and 2 buildings on 1.7 acres (plus the sensitively refurbished Penrose House) with back-up from Dennehys Gym, currently starting a €700,000 fit-out, and Naturally Nourished cafe.

The JCD development may host up to 2,000 employees when office occupancy finds new levels post-Covid-19 and as any future  ‘hybrid’ office solution gets established.

Mr O’Donoghue said Ibec’s pending move to this Gold LEED development shows confidence in the future of office-based employment, with a focus on flexible uses, and said the development’s penthouse-level conference, hospitality, and function space ‘Sky Room’ available to all Penrose Dock occupiers was a significant consideration.

“We’re really excited about the move and to being a really strong voice for business in the region,” he stated, adding that it was to be the first of upgraded and enlarged Ibec hubs, serving diverse business and trade association membership, number 7,000 nationally, and with many hundreds based in Cork with strong presences in pharma, FDI, cybersecurity, and financial and professional services.

Tommy Barker – The Irish Examiner

Thursday 10th December