The project is a joint initiative between CDYS, Cork County Council, who own the building, and the Mitchelstown Community Council who in 2014 secured use of the building under a 10 year rolling contract.
Mary Ryan the director of housing with Cork County Council, announced the news to councillors at their May northern area meeting. "We have been working closely with CDYS to develop a facility at Forrest Hall similar in scope to the very successful centre they run at Gouldshill in Mallow", said Ms Ryan. She said COrk County Council had set aside funding for the conversion of a section of the complex for the youth centre. "This is a good news story for Mitchelstown and is part of the overall strategy to rejuvenate the Forrest Hall building," said Ms Ryan. The announcement was given a warm welcome with Cllr Frank O'Flynn (FF) describing it as a "very welcome development".
In 2001 Cork County Council purchased Forrest Hall from Dairygold for €381,000 with the intention of turning it into a library. However, in 2010 the Suttons Court Complex was chosen as the venue for the library - effectively leaving the authority with a white elephant on its hands.
After efforts to offload Forrest Hall proved unsuccessful, a planning application by Mitchelstown Community Council to convert the building into a community centre was given the green light two years ago.
At the time Community Council chairman Sean Finn said it would cost in the region of €100,000 to convert the building and it was hoped to house the local youth café on the premises.
CDYS regional director Mr Brian Williams confirmed the Mitchelstown Centre would incorporate a youth café, a drop in facility and other dedicated activity spaces.
"Once the centre is open, hopefully by the end of the summer, we will be in a better position to gauge the needs of young people and put in a range of activities to suit," said Mr Williams. "While we already have a presence in Mitchelstown, there was an obvious need for a dedicated youth space in the town. In addition to running the youth facility we will also be using our experience and knowledge of running community centres to bear in the running of the entire Forrest Hall complex," he said.