Douglas Village shopping centre likely to be closed until summer 2020

Demolition work due on section of multistorey car park damaged in recent fire

The first car is removed by crane from Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Cork following an accidental fire which severely damaged the multistorey car park earlier this month. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The first car is removed by crane from Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Cork following an accidental fire which severely damaged the multistorey car park earlier this month. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

A Cork shopping centre which was forced to close after a fire in its multistorey car park caused upwards of €10 million worth of damage may not re-open until next summer, shopping centre management have advised tenants.

Douglas Village Shopping Centre was forced to close when a car caught fire on the first floor of the multistorey car park on the evening on August 31st and quickly spread to other vehicles, resulting in extensive damage to the car park.

The blaze, which firefighters estimate saw the fire reach temperatures of 600 to 1,000 centigrade, caused major structural damage to the car park with girders buckling so badly that a portion of the car park must be demolished.

Now Douglas Village Shopping Centre in Cork management have advised the 50 or so tenants in the centre that demolition work on the damaged section of the multi-storey car park will commence next week.

“The current advice we have is that it may be summer 2020 before the Centre will be rebuilt and ready to reopen. The extent of the rebuild will depend on the amount of the demolition.

“More on the rebuild time frame will be known once demolition is complete,” said shopping centre management. They went on to outline what will happen next week when contractors come into begin the demolition.

“Demolition is now scheduled to start next week. An initial area for demolition has been identified but given the extent of the damage, additional areas may have to be added as the damaged area gets exposed and inspected up close.”

Cars removed

According to shopping centre management, some 137 cars which were trapped in the blazing multi-storey car park when the exit ramps became unsafe, have been removed by crane and returned to their owners.

“We have 137 cars safely removed with a further ten due to come out this weekend. This will leave 49 cars on the site, the vast majority of which are fully destroyed,” said shopping centre management.

The figure of 49 cars includes three cars stuck on the top level and contractors may be able to remove them during demolition though no exact time frame has been put on the demolition process, said shopping centre management.

News that the shopping centre may be closed until next summer was greeted with a certain stoicism by traders with jeweller, John Neville admitting that he thought the centre might have been closed for longer.

“I expected to be closed for longer to be honest – I mean if they are taking down a third of the centre, I would have thought it could be well a year plus but if they get it done by summer, I think it will be good going.”

Staff and stock transfer

Mr Neville said he had already redeployed staff and transferred stock from his shop at Douglas Village Shopping Centre to his other three stores in Cork city and he was hopefully of resuming in Douglas at the earliest opportunity.

“We’ve transferred staff and stock and the insurance has covered everything so we’re doing okay – I hope the disruption won’t cost us because the gap in trade in this unit will be a challenge but we will get back up and running.”

Butcher Patrick Bresnan of Bresnan’s Butchers is currently operating a delivery service from a base in Carrigaline but said the closure will mean they will have to get an alternative premises in Douglas to cater for their Christmas trade.

“The forecast at the moment is it’s going to be closed until next summer - we have set ourselves up online for a free home delivery service and we’re taking orders via the website and via the phone number and that’s working well.

“We’re taking orders and delivering as far away as Crosshaven and Ballincollig so the home delivery is working well but we’re trying to source a premises in Douglas for Christmas because Christmas is an enormous part of our year.”