Developer Owen O’Callaghan said the 250,000 sq ft shopping centre element of his €550 million Mahon Point scheme will become one of Munster’s biggest employers when it opens on Tuesday, February 1, 2005.
“Up to 80% of the jobs in all of these shops will go to local people,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
On a tour of part of the 111-acre building site yesterday, one of the biggest construction sites in the country where up to 1,000 builders are working, Mr O’Callaghan said the fitting out of shop units for anchor tenants like Tesco and Debenhams was already underway.
“But we will open the place quietly - we’ll just let the people, the average shopper in, just open the doors and let them in,” he said.
The O’Callaghan Properties developed shopping centre will have 50 retail outlets, including Next, Spanish clothing giant Zara, Easons, Monsoon, River Island, Jane Norman, A-Wear, Sasha, Pamela Scott, The Jean Scene and French Connection, and will have parking for 1,600 cars.
“For too long, people in Cork were going to Dublin to shop in the big name stores. Now we’re bringing those stores and the big names to Cork.”
The centre will also have three restaurants, six additional food courts and an 11 screen omniplex.
Project manager Pat Murphy said Mahon Point represents the single most ambitious property project undertaken in Cork.
As well as the shopping centre and the omniplex, and once complete by 2009, Mahon Point will also have an industrial park just across the road with hi-tech units, a 200-bedroom hotel, offices and a leisure centre, creating jobs for up to 6,000 people.
Most employees will be drawn from a job training initiative set up by O’Callaghan Properties, FÁS, the Mahon Community Association and key retailers.
Nearby Nagle College has also started a year-long Fetac-certified Retail Studies Course.
Mr Murphy said there are also plans to plant rare magnolia trees from the Himalayas near the shopping centre entrance.
“When we started work on the site, we did a lot of research going back over 300 years about the area.
“We discovered that the big house on Jacob’s Island was owned by the Crawfords and that Mr Crawford was the first person to germinate the rare magnolia camenbelia in Ireland. So we plan to do the same here in Mahon,” he said.