Owners of properties built before 1915 will benefit from tax breaks if they restore derelict or aging buildings as homes.
The Living Cities Initiative, announced by the Department of Finance, will benefit property owners in Galway, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Dublin and Kilkenny who refurbish units as family homes, or develop the buildings as apartments.
The scheme is designed to encourage more people back to living in city centres, and to regeneration.
It comes amid concern about the under-use of older properties, which are in many cases largely unoccupied despite being close to employment centres and key public services.
A report by Indecon economic consultants says as many as one in four, or 580, older properties in Waterford city are unoccupied and almost one in three, or 360, in Limerick.
No figures are available on the number of empty buildings in the other cities. It is believed that between 700 and 1,100 construction jobs would be created each year under the initiative.
Key areas for inclusion in Cork are Shandon, Blarney Street and The Marsh, which straddles the River Lee; St Luke’s on the north bank of the river and South Parish.
In Dublin, areas include the North Georgian core comprising the area around Henrietta Street, Eccles Street and Mountjoy Square; the city centre and inner city including James’s Street and South Great George’s Street; and key radial routes including Dorset Street, Camden Street and Clanbrassil Street.
There are three areas in Galway, ranging from Nun’s Island to Woodquay, Eyre Square and the Docks, while in Kilkenny some 118 hectares – about one third of the entire borough area – will benefit. The Georgian Core in Limerick and another area north of the River Abbey around Nicholas Street is included, while in Waterford city a large area along the south bank of the Suir, and north side at Ferrybank will benefit.
There will be two types of relief available, which will cover buildings with a total floor area between 38 square metres and 210 square metres. Owner-occupiers can write off 10pc of the investment over 10 years.
Further details are available at www.finance.gov.ie/ living-city-initiative