Douglas fire latest: City Hall carry out audit of empty retail spaces to help businesses facing 10-month layoff 

Douglas fire latest: City Hall carry out audit of empty retail spaces to help businesses facing 10-month layoff 
Aftermath of Douglas Village Shopping Centre fire in the multi-storey carpark.

AN AUDIT of empty retail spaces in Douglas has been carried out as traders at Douglas Village Shopping centre were told it will be at least 10 months before they can move back in following a devastating fire.

In a statement, Douglas Village Shopping Centre announced it will be the summer of 2020 before the centre will reopen.

“Demolition is now scheduled to start next week. An initial area for demolition has been identified but given the extent of the damage, additional areas may have to be added as the damaged areas get exposed and inspected up close,” the statement read.

“The current advice we have is that it may be summer 2020 before the centre will be rebuilt and ready to open. The extent of the rebuild will depend on the amount of demolition. More on the rebuild time frame will be known once demolition is complete,” he added.

Aftermath of Douglas Village Shopping Centre
Aftermath of Douglas Village Shopping Centre

Councillor Mary Rose Desmond told The Echo that Cork City Council has mapped out empty retail spaces and will do everything it can to help businesses reopen at temporary locations in the village.

“The council will do everything in its power to help the traders but ultimately, the retail space is a private endeavour and I don't know how feasible it will be to get some up and running.

“The council doesn’t have any access to this space.

“It’s imperative that we act quickly now the time frame has been communicated because consumers develop new habits very quickly. There are five independent traders that do not operate at any other location other than Douglas Village and they will need somewhere to set up and trade.” 

Ms Desmond added she is encouraging business owners to speak to the Revenue Commissioners to make alternative arrangements around tax payments.

Ray O’Brien of the Music Zone record store said he is desperately searching for a new unit to trade from.

“I suppose the most important thing now for me is to get a roof over my head which has easy enough access and a bit of parking for folk and I suppose it needs to be reasonably priced, so that's what I am looking to find now.

[It’s] a seller's market around Douglas now but look I will find something. It’s huge upheaval matched with problems on every corner it seems but once I find that place, things will settle down a bit.

“The latest on the centre is that they are looking at summer 2020 for reopening. It's probably a bit concerning because human nature might make one think that that could be [the] best-case scenario, so I need to find a temporary home,” he added.

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