THE people of Cork are hopeful for city centre regeneration following news that the iconic former Roches Stores building on Patrick Street is close to being sold.
It is understood that contracts have been issued for the sale of the former Roches Stores building, which has been vacant since Debenhams closed three years ago.
The store is just one of a number of buildings that are left idle on Pana.
The Echo spoke to shoppers on Patrick Street this week and heard what the public would like to see in the prime retail setting.
Felicity Foley from Model Farm Road said it was “heartbreaking” to see the building closed for so long.
“I wish it was back — bring back Roches Stores,” she said.
“We are so lucky to have all these beautiful buildings like Roches Stores as it was, Cash’s that was, the Munster Arcade as it was, Grants that was,” she added, reminiscing about the landmark stores that once called Patrick Street home.
Ms Foley admitted she hopes for something similar to return to Cork but was unsure.
“I am kind of nervous about what might come into the building but I have my fingers crossed that it will be good for the city,” she said.
Similarly, Dolores O’Keefe hopes that another department store will replace the former Debenhams, which closed its doors in 2020.
“We need another department store on Patrick Street because everything around us is all gone, they are closed down, so it would be a great idea for Debenhams,” she said.
While heading home from school, a handful of students from Christian Brother’s College shared what they hoped to see in the iconic building, including more restaurants, an Apple store and room for more leisure facilities.
The building, which is expected to be sold for €12m, boasts a footprint of 1.32 acres.
It came on to the market last year and attracted a number of potential suitors, but the current buyer has yet to be revealed.
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle recently welcomed the news of a potential sale, saying: “I’m happy with this news.
“What many Cork people still refer to as Roches Stores building is too large and too distinctive a building to remain unused.
“Bringing life to it again is the best news Patrick Street, and the city, has had for a long time."
The contracts issued to the potential buyers are due back by the end of the month. Debenhams leased the building from 2006 until its closure in 2020.
The closure resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs, which impacted many families and led to a lengthy strike action.
Debenhams workers ended their 406-day strike in May 2021.