College Board will decide the fate of Trinity East – College’s large-scale capital investment project – in March of this year, with a temporary halting of the project on the table.
According to minutes of an October meeting of the College Board, the chief governing body in Trinity will decide the “future direction of the project”, which was previously called TTEC, in two months’ time, and the option to pause the project will be considered.
In the meeting, Provost Patrick Prendergast said that the “implications of a pause should be investigated”, and it should be considered as an option.
Some Board members, the minutes noted, were unsettled by multinational companies releasing office accommodation and a possible realignment of how they companies do business, as well as uncertainty in society more generally due to the pandemic.
As a result, they cautioned against College making large financial decisions, saying that there would be more clarity on these issues in two to three years.
Prendergast also proposed appointing an independent monitor for the project. Trinity did not, however, confirm whether this monitor was appointed by time of publication.
In an email statement to The University Times, Diarmuid O’Brien, project sponsor for Trinity East and College’s chief innovation and enterprise officer, said: “Like all capital projects we are continuously reviewing progress against cost, risk and strategic issues.”
“Trinity remains committed to the Trinity East project and the Board has approved the early activation of the site. There is a planning application submitted to Dublin City Council in this regard. The Board has also approved the Strategy for E3RI and we are progressing on our plans for this development.”
“In March a preliminary business case will be brought to Board and on the back of this the Board will reflect on the next phase of the project. As agreed at Board there are five options that will be considered at this point”, he concluded.
Trinity did not say on what these options are, after this newspaper requested more information on them.
Trinity East – a five-and-a-half acre site – will be situated in the Grand Canal Dock, and bound by Pearse St, Macken St, the DART line and Grand Canal Quay.
In November, College announced that it had submitted the planning application for its proposed Innovation Hub.
It is billed as a space for entrepreneurs, academics, early stage start-ups and innovation teams to convene.
The Innovation Hub will include a new public square with a cafe and seating as well as a landmark tower that dates back to 1862 when the area housed a sugar refinery.
The development of the Innovation Hub will allow College to move forward with its plans for the Grand Canal Innovation District – approved by the government in January – including the establishment of Trinity East.
The project is central to the government’s plans to make the area a globally competitive centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The state is likely to invest €150 million in the ambitious project over the next decade.