Mayor of Limerick: ‘Demolish empty Dunnes building and open up the river’

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

The Dunnes Stores building

The Dunnes Stores building

MAYOR of Limerick James Collins has suggested the empty Dunnes Stores building in Sarsfield Street be “demolished” to “open up the riverside”.

While many parties have suggested the controversial site be re-opened and used as a convention centre, or a civic space, Limerick’s first citizen believes the city should see an opportunity in razing the facility.

However, he acknowledged the issues which may surround this, given the fact the building remains in the ownership of the supermarket giant – and the council has issues with compulsorily acquiring it.

The mayor, who has just returned from a trade mission in Austin, Texas, wrote in a blog post: “Imagine that empty Dunnes building being re-used, being developed or demolished to open up the riverside. Austin would view this as an opportunity and so should we.  

“It's complicated because Dunnes don't accept the site is vacant - and are thus resisting the penalty payments that come with a 'vacant designation'.” 

Despite it emerging last week that Dunnes had rejected an offer of €3m from council to acquire the site, Mayor Collins pledged that the local authority will continue to fight to ensure the supermarket giant acts on the building, which has lain largely idle since it closed in August 2008.

“It is about encouraging development of the site, either by Dunnes or someone else,” he wrote

“Austin's experience shows us that culture and commerce don't have to clash. The music business has given Austin an international reputation and generated hundreds of millions in revenue for the city's traders and hotels. The Live Music Capital of the World is Austin because they said so. What is our slogan on the city bounds?”

Last week, Dunnes Stores won a High Court order halting moves to to place a closed shopping centre building in Limerick city centre on an official register for vacant sites.

Dunnes Stores was granted a stay on Bord Pleanála's determination of an appeal of the council's decision to place the property on the Vacant Sites Register under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.