WORK on clearing the site for the long-awaited Aldi store is expected to begin in Newcastle West next Monday. And, according to Cllr Michael Collins, the discount store will open for business in November and create up to 40 jobs.
Planning permission was granted for the 1500 square metre store last June but Aldi itself has consistently declined to say when work would begin.
The final step in opening the way for construction was taken this week when the contract for the site, known locally as Nash’s yard, where the former factory stood, was finalised. The Aldi store will be located on a portion of this site but clearing of the entire site, stretching from Nash’s Lane right along the rear of Church St, is due to begin on Monday.
The Aldi project will take six months to complete, Cllr Collins said. It involves clearing the site, constructing the store and parking for 101 cars, detailed landscaping and the pedestrianisation and upgrading of Nash’s Lane.
Meanwhile, Cllr Collins revealed, negotiations are underway with other parties to develop the remaining portion of the Nash’s site.
In his capacity as estate agent with the sale of the remaining site, Cllr Collins said he had been in talks with two large retail outlets as well as a cinema operator with a view to developing the area. He had also had discussions about a possible medical centre there, he said.
“I am optimistic and confident that site will be developed and revamped over the next couple of years,” he said. The Aldi store in place made it a more attractive proposition, he added and it had the advantages of being in the town centre, with good access and car parking.
“It will also open up the rear of the premises along Church St,” Cllr Collins said.
Already, he added, discussions were underway with possible buyers for the large pub and club premises formerly known as the Turnpike and Mission.
Welcoming the finalisation of the Aldi deal, Cllr Collins said he hoped it was the beginning of a new prosperity in this section of town.
People now shop around more, he said, and up to now, local people were leaving town to buy in Aldi shops in Listowel, Limerick and Castleisland. The opening of Aldi in Newcastle West will “keep them local”, he predicted.
“It will aslo attract people into town who will then disperse and bring custom to other shops. It will all equal itself out and will be good for other businesses in the town.”
Cllr Collins said he hoped the workers let go from Garvey’s Supervalu last month would secure jobs with Aldi. “They have the necessary skills, “ he said.
Meanwhile, Limerick City and County Council is expected to make a decision on another big project in the town on May 27, the revamp of the Courtenay Lodge Hotel. Only one observation has been lodged with the council, asking for confirmation that a night club is not included in the planning application.
If permission is granted, the work on rebuilding a section of the existing structure and refurbishing the remainder is expected to take at least six months. The new owner, London-based property developer Jim Long, originally from Feoghanagh, is planning to rename the hotel the Longcourt House Hotel.