Buyers swoop on shopping centres in Drogheda and Cork

Anderson family cinema group in €21m deal for Scotch Hall while Urban Green Private to pay €23m for Douglas Village complex

The sales of two of Ireland’s best-known regional shopping centres are coming close to completion for sums of €21 million and €23 million respectively.

In the first instance, The Irish Times understands that the Omniplex cinema group, which is controlled by the Anderson family, is set to acquire Scotch Hall Shopping Centre in Drogheda, Co Louth. The second deal meanwhile will see Urban Green Private, the real estate investment firm headed up by Tom Coughlan, secure ownership of Douglas Village Shopping Centre.

Built in the early 2000s by Galway-based developer Gerry Barrett, Scotch Hall Shopping Centre forms part of a wider mixed-use scheme in Drogheda town centre which also includes apartments and the well-known D Hotel. The sale itself comprises 15,794sq m (170,000sq ft) of retail space and a vacant cinema, together with the adjoining multistorey car parks which provide 631 car-parking spaces. The sale also comprises an incomplete block with an expired planning consent, which offers further scope for development. Also included within the centre is a former distillery building which could lend itself to a number of uses. It is understood that the Anderson family’s interest in Scotch Hall was piqued primarily by the opportunity to secure ownership of the centre’s vacant cinema. While the Omniplex group already has a presence in Drogheda, it leases its current premises.

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Scotch Hall Shopping Centre is anchored by Dunnes Stores. The store, which is owner-occupied by Dunnes, extends to 7,804sq m (84,000sq ft) and is complemented by a range of local and international retailers, including Lifestyle Sports, River Island Waterstones, GameStop and Holland & Barrett.

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Mr Barrett’s sale of Scotch Hall comes just five years after he worked with Irish investment house Cardinal Capital to refinance the loans associated with the Drogheda scheme from Deutsche Bank.

Major transformation

In the case of Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Urban Green Private is understood to be on course to acquire a scheme which has undergone a multimillion-euro transformation following a major fire in 2019. Some €30 million in damage was caused to its car park when a vehicle went up in flames allegedly resulting in a major fire. The blaze, which reached an estimated temperature of 1,000 degrees, destroyed 49 cars and caused steel girders in the structure to buckle. When engineers declared the car park to be unsafe, it was demolished and rebuilt.

Today, Douglas Village Shopping Centre is very much back in business and home to numerous major retail occupiers. As well as being anchored by Tesco and Marks & Spencer, the 21,863sq m (230,000sq ft) suburban Cork scheme counts TK Maxx, Eurogiant, Bank of Ireland and the recently opened Petstop within its tenant line-up. The centre sits on a 2.47-hectare (6.1-acre) site just 3.5km south of Cork city centre.

Separately, The Irish Times understands that the sale of Carlow’s Fairgreen Shopping Centre has been agreed to a private buyer for about €20 million. The scheme was offered to the market at a guide price of €22.85 million in September.

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Acting Property Editor of The Irish Times