With regards to redevelopment, a brownfield is land that has been previously used for industrial purposes. As industries change, a site may become vacant and eventually earmarked for redevelopment. The majority of waterfront redevelopment in Ireland, including the redevelopment of Dublin Port in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, was brownfield redevelopment.
In Galway, Ireland, much of the brownfield redevelopment has taken place by the harbor. Large warehouses and storage yards have been replaced with attractive apartments and offices that overlook the harbor (which itself is due for redevelopment in the near future). Paul Carey, the Galway Harbour company’s Chairman, states that it is the goal of the company to make the harbor “A cultural and tourism support area, together with it being a hub for new research and development centers with a global impact in the marine, medical and technology sector.”
Much of Galway’s brownfield redevelopment largely took place in the late 1990’s early 2000’s during the start of Ireland’s economic boom, often called the Celtic Tiger. Merchants Road, which runs from the harbor to the centre of Galway, was largely derelict in the early 1990’s. It is now one of the busiest streets in Galway, and is filled with numerous commercial, retail and residential units. It also contains some of the best architecture in Galway City.
Nevertheless, many brownfield sites that have been left vacant since the economic collapse. One of these sites is known locally as the "Crown Square," so-called because of the area's previous use as Crown paints’ factory. This site has been vacant since early 2008, and there is no sign that development will recommence in the near future.
At present there are numerous brownfield sites that have yet to be developed. This is mainly due to the global economic crisis. However, a number of these sites can still be used throughout the year while awaiting development. One very prominent site near the harbor is being utilized for monthly markets, as well as a carnival in summer. In both 2009 and 2012, this same site was also used as the welcoming village for the successful Volvo Ocean Race.
Overall, however, it is good to see the reuse of brownfield sites in Galway. The harbor area, neglected and rundown only 20 years ago is now a hub of activity and could provide inspiration for other future developments.
Has your city taken similar steps in relation to brownfield redevelopment? Are there redevelopment projects that have been successful in your community?
Credits: Images by Alan Bannon. Data linked to sources