Dunnes Stores paid €1m on empty Limerick site

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Dunnes Stores paid €1m on empty Limerick site

Retailer paid the sum to Limerick Council over 10 years for the vacant building

RETAIL giant Dunnes Stores paid the council almost €1m over a decade in rates on a site it wasn’t using.

After it was confirmed the University of Limerick is to purchase the long-derelict building for €8m, the Limerick Leader can reveal Dunnes Stores paid hundreds of thousands of euro in commercial rates to the local authority while it lay empty.

Information disclosed to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act shows Dunnes Stores paid a total of €953,881.92 in respect of its site in Sarsfield Street between 2008, when the shop closed, and last year.

Its rates bill for this year had not yet been paid as of the end of last month.

There had been widespread anger at Dunnes Stores, with many accusing them of “hoarding” the site, not allowing any competitor into what is a landmark building on the northern edge of the city.

The local authority did try to put special conditions on the site, which could have paved the way for higher a commercial rate for Dunnes. ​

However, when the retailer challenged the local council in the High Court, it emerged the local authority had offered €3m to buy the property. The retailer had secured a court order halting moves to put the site on the vacant sites register.

Ten days ago, UL stepped up to confirm that its governing authority had sanctioned the purchase of the building for €8m to open a new “riverside city centre campus” on site.

University president Dr Des Fitzgerald said its new campus will aim to bring together law, business and entrepreneurship in technology and “create a hub for developing and supporting enterprises in the city”. There has been a widespread welcome for the project – but also concerns expressed as to housing provision for the hundreds of students likely to be studying at the new campus once it’s complete.