Limerick’s Cruises Street facing significant future challenges

Cruises Street has seen a number of closures in recent months, including most recently Korky’s Shoe Shop and Art and Hobby

Cruises Street has seen a number of closures in recent months, including most recently Korky’s Shoe Shop and Art and Hobby

OF all the shopping thoroughfares in Limerick, it could be argued that Cruises Street is facing the biggest of challenges.

The pedestrianised plaza, built in 1992, has seen a number of closures in recent months, including most recently Korky’s Shoe Shop and Art and Hobby with vacant units now a striking feature.

Many now argue the street is in serious need of reimagination.

John Moran of Liveable Limerick, the former secretary general at the Department of Finance, said these days, single-purpose streets do not work.

”It’s designed as a retail only stretch. That’s not to say there are not some apartments overhead, but they are not a dominant part. If you have an office quarter, it’s empty at night. If you have a single purpose offering like Cruises Street, at 6pm at night, why would you want to be there? It’s not like there are restaurants, or a social community there,” he said.

At present, Mr Moran says Cruises Street does not offer a compelling reason to go there, but he argues it could form a major link to the Milk Market if developed properly.

“Cruises Street could be as nice as Little Catherine Street – but we just don’t see it like that. Imagine if that street was known in Limerick for having the best free wi-fi in Limerick? People would be sitting down there with their phones. And that’s another point: I don’t think there is a seat from one end of Cruises Street to the other,” he said.

Mr Moran suggested Cruises Street could have gaming consoles, or a mini-cinema to keep people there after hours.

Donal Mulcahy, of Nancy Blake’s pub, owns a unit on Cruises Street. He believes many firms availed of a tax break scheme when the street was first built, and moved on when that expired.

“The Corporation maybe need to look at it themselves, maybe they could get some incentive to reduce rates in the area, or maybe if they arrange to roof that area, it might entice people to come in. I’ve seen this happen successfully in Barcelona and Madrid,” Mr Mulcahy said.

Covering the street in a similar fashion to parts of the Liverpool One Shopping Centre in Britain is an option favoured by a number of parties.

But one problem, which has been acknowledged, is that several different people own property on the street.

Chamber chief executive Dee Ryan said: “Cruises Street has a unique opportunity to be a better link between O’Connell Street and the Milk Market.”

Ms Ryan believes the developments around Project Opera could give Cruises Street a new lease of life.

Indeed, John Moran warns that it is “too soon” to sound the death knell for the street.

“I’ve seen dead streets and that’s not one of them. There are lots of streets in our city which just don’t work. But if you go to Cruises Street on a Saturday, it’s busy. There are little stands and people hanging out and doing stuff,” he said.

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