TRADERS have extended a cautious welcome to the news that the Douglas Shopping Centre is set to reopen on November 12.
The centre closed last August after the building went up in flames after a car in the car park ignited.
The reopening of the centre will see 46 units back open to the public, including a large Tesco supermarket, luxury retailer M&S, and a number of independent traders as well as 1,000 car parking spaces.
Centre manager Bartosz Mieszala said the traders were notified of the revised opening date last week and from the responses he received, he said most people are delighted.
“The traders were the first to be informed last week,” he confirmed.
Speaking about the news that the centre was hoping to be on track to reopen ahead of the busy Christmas period, Vicki Creber from itso me boutique said it was very positive.
Mark Hayes from O’Briens Cafe said that it was better late than never and he hoped the locals would be back when the centre reopens.
“Management has been under pressure and Covid didn’t help,” he said. “They were delayed for two months.
“It has been tough on traders, but hopefully if it reopens before Christmas, that will be a good start.”
Mr Hayes, who has other restaurants in the city, said he was able to retain about 80% of staff through redeployment
“I was lucky, I still have most of my staff, I know not all the traders were able to do that,” he said.
Ray O’Brien from Music Zone record store said his insurance company increased his premium eightfold following the fire in the centre.
Mr O’Brien, who moved his set-up to Deanrock Business and Technology Park, said he has now been closed six out of the past 11 months due to fire and Covid-19.
“It has been a rollercoaster of a year. If the centre reopens in November, well and good, but I’m not holding my breath,” he said.
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond welcomed the news.
“I think the centre reopening is vital now more than ever to rejuvenate retail in Douglas,” she said.
“A high tide raises all boats, I think is the saying. The delays with regards to Covid-19 were understandable I think, and I know from speaking to traders they are anxious to reopen as soon as possible.
“Any updates on the progress of the development are welcome.”