Cllr Calls For Meeting With Dunnes Stores About Vacant Town Centre Premises

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Dunnes on Bridge Street.

A FINE Gael councillor has called for a meeting with the management of Dunnes Stores nationally, about the possibility of allowing the council take a lease on their Tralee town centre premises.

The large property on Bridge Street has been vacant for many years now and Cllr Jim Finucane said it would be useful for Kerry County Council to ask for the meeting as something needed to be done to bring jobs into the town centre.

Cllr Finucane was speaking after a presentation by Tralee Municipal District Director of Services,  Michael Scannell made a presentation on a new pilot scheme to encourage businesses to set up in the town centre.

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The aim of the scheme is to reduce the vacancy levels in ground, first and second floors of buildings in Pembroke Street, Rock Street, Russell Street, Bridge Street, Milk Market Lane, Denny Street, Upper and Lower Castle Street, Lower Edward Street and Lower Ashe Street.

There are grants payable to successful applicants over three years to bring vacant properties back into use. The grants are, for Year 1, equivalent to 75% of rates paid, equivalent to 50% for Year 2 and 25% for Year 3, based on the businesses paying their rates in full.

A parking strategy will be introduced to encourage people working in town to park in the more peripheral areas and free mentoring will also be available.

Sinn Féin Cllr Toireasa Ferris said the problem of long-term vacant premises will not be solved unless the Council imposes full rates on those properties, unless the owners can come up with a legitimate reason why it is not in use.

Labour Cllr Terry O’Brien welcomed the scheme and said the Council needed to push Dunnes Stores about the vacant Bridge Street building. He also said incentives had to be given for people who work in town and park in the town centre, to park elsewhere to free up spaces for shoppers.

Cllr Jim Finucane said the Dunnes Stores building is a critical facility  for the town centre.

He proposed the Council write to Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores ask can they lease the building for a nominal rate to allow them develop the premises as a multi-purpose facility that could be used in conjunction with the IT Tralee and Kerry ETB, or as a centre for innovation.

Tralee Chamber Alliance has already written to a director of Dunnes Stores on behalf of the business community in Tralee, requesting a meeting to discuss the possibility of getting the premises reopened soon.

In the letter dated February 7, they stated that “the street that this property sits on is at a critical juncture in time, with planned regeneration works to that area, and the viability of neighbouring properties and businesses is being undermined by the vacancy of your company’s property.”

It further states; “As an organisation we are focused on being supportive to businesses needs in a very proactive manner, understanding issues and identifying solutions. To this end, we request a meeting, either in Tralee or Dublin, with authoritative representatives from your company, your agents and ourselves with a view to defining a beneficial solution to having this property re-opened within a defined short timeframe.”

One Comment

  1. Matty O'Leary says:

    Shame on Dunnes Stores for keeping one of the Tralee town centres most impressive buildings vacant for more or less a continuous basis for decades now.

    Also, the old shopping centre next door should remove the last remaining tenants to force the long overdue necessary renovations in place to revive it and restore prosperity.
    If renovated to standard, it could attract a large retailer like M&S?
    It is a crazy situation to walk (run) trough a zombie shopping centre and see most of the units vacant and just a few low level businesses hanging on. I really do not know what the last remaining business are thinking as they would do far better economically in one of the numerous vacant business units in other sections of the town centre!

    Both Dunnes Stores and the old shopping centre have had a detrimental economic and socially adverse affect on the Bridge street area.