Still no anchor tenant for revamped Dún Laoghaire shopping centre
Agents yet to secure big-name retailer several months after completing renovation
Dun Laoghaire shopping centre has an average weekly footfall of 65,000. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times
The owners of Dún Laoghaire shopping centre have yet to confirm an anchor tenant for the property several months after completing a major internal renovation.
The centre’s owner, Coltard, revamped the site to create one large anchor store over two floors, which fronts on to the town’s main shopping area on George’s Street, and a smaller one, which opens out on to the adjacent Marine Road.
The work, which prompted the removal of 25 of the original 70 tenants, was completed in the early part of this year but letting agents Murphy Mulhall have yet to secure a tenant for either store.
Murphy Mulhall director Robert Murphy said the centre was in discussions with several interested parties and was in competition with another scheme to secure what he described as a big-name retailer.
“We’re in negotiations, but they’re not as advanced as we’d like them to be,” he said, noting that town centre shopping across Ireland was struggling to compete with out-of-town multiples offering patrons free parking.
Built in 1976, the centre was the State’s first multi-storey covered shopping mall. However, in recent years it has struggled in the face of competition from rival Dún Laoghaire shopping centre Bloomfields, Blackrock’s Frascati centre, and more recently from the arrival of discounters Lidl and Aldi in nearby Sallynoggin.
Nonetheless it still commands an average weekly footfall of 65,000 and is in a good position to benefit from the ongoing rejuvenation of the town’s harbour area, which is centred around the new €36 million Lexicon library and a plan to convert the ferry terminal into a business hub for technology and design firms.
Grocery chain SuperValu currently anchors the property, while Tesco Ireland, the local arm of the British retailer, has its Irish headquarters in a 40,000sq ft office on the top floor.
In 2016 owners Coltard secured planning for a €12-€15 million renovation, which included a major reconfiguration of the shopping area and an exterior makeover.
“The large international multiple wants large floor plates that they can trade off and ideally floors that talk to each other and link in vertically, and that’s what we’ve created through the planning permission we were awarded last year,” Mr Murphy said.
The exterior part of the renovation, however, has yet to commence despite an initial plan to have work completed by the second quarter of 2017.
A spokeswoman for the traders’ association said the centre required a big-name retailer to make it a destination for shoppers and help it compete with rivals.
She said the existing tenants were mindful of the difficulties in getting suitable retailers in such a competitive climate, particularly with the arrival of Lidl and Aldi in Sallynoggin, which were drawing people away from shopping in Dún Laoghaire town centre. “However, we believe there is a future for Dún Laoghaire shopping centre,” she said.
Local Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth said Dún Laoghaire shopping centre was on a great site and had huge potential as a location.
However, he said: “The building itself is horrific with its vast, windowless brown brick walls looming over the street. A lick of paint won’t help at this stage, it needs to be demolished.”