PLANS to redevelop one of Cork city's oldest shopping centres are expected to accelerate early next year.
The Merchants Quay shopping centre is set to undergo a major redevelopment in the coming months, revamping its old-style shopping malls for modern retail needs.
Plans have been on the table for more than two years, with permission for the work granted by City Hall in July 2015.
In the time since, significant reconfiguration has taken place in the centre, with a number of units relocating or closing to allow for the progress.
Plans include the combination of a number of smaller units into larger, open stores, which are more suited to modern retail needs.
It is understood that work won't begin until early next year to minimise disruption to shoppers over the coming Christmas shopping period, though sources close to the development are confident that the work will be finished by late 2018.
The finished product will result in fewer stores in the centre overall, though it is hoped that it may make the old malls more attractive to modern retail brands.
Developed in 1988 by Owen O'Callaghan, the shopping centre changed hands in 2016 in a multi-million euro deal, clearing the way for the redevelopment.
Anchor stores Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores and Boots continue to operate in the centre, as does the SuperValu store which recently completed its own revamp.
A number of smaller local companies, including Pana Bread, have also taken up residency in recent times.
The redevelopment is certain to be welcomed by city business chiefs when it does take place. They have long sought a change in fortunes for that end of Patrick St, with nearby blocks containing a number of empty units.
However, with the impending sale of the former Roche's Stores, the planned redevelopment of Penney's, the arrival of Fáilte Ireland and the completion of development at numbers 83-85 Patrick St, it certainly looks like the city's main thoroughfare is set for a change in fortunes over the coming years.