2,000 jobs on cards as retail project gets €100m revamp

A mothballed retail project on the outskirts of Limerick city, which was abandoned mid-build during the property crash, is set to undergo a €100m redevelopment, with the potential to create 2,000 jobs.

A planning application will be lodged with Limerick City and County Council today by Belfast-based developer Suneil Sharma, to complete the partially-built Parkway Shopping Centre on the main Dublin to Limerick road as Horizon Mall.

The application will seek approval to amend the existing planning permission for the site and to reduce the project’s scale, while retaining some of its core elements.

The project represents one of the largest private sector investments in the Limerick area and, if sanctioned, will create 500 construction jobs and up to 1,500 retail jobs when completed.

However, city councillors and some business interests have previously argued that the focus should be on investment in the city centre.

Work on the Parkway site ground to a halt in 2007 when developer Liam Carroll’s Zoe Group collapsed.

Mr Sharma, who has property interests in Limerick for over 15 years, subsequently bought the site.

He said its strategic location has already generated interest from several international retail brands, many of which would otherwise not consider locating in the city.

“Marks & Spencer have agreed to take 100,000 square feet in the new scheme — their largest store outside Dublin,” he said.

“We are involved in very positive discussions with other major retail brands and will be making further announcements about this in the weeks and months ahead.”

The proposed development has 29,000 square metres of retail space, 2,800 square metres of food, 3,400 square metres of leisure, a 1,575-space car park, and a crèche. It will be linked to play park on lands adjoining the project.

A spokesperson for the project said the jobs at Horizon Mall will generate in excess of €35m of net disposal income into the city and local economy.

Mr Sharma has indicated that he will support an employment training scheme in the area to make sure that as many local people as possible get jobs in the new development.

The jobs scheme, which will have a particular focus on the long-term unemployed, will be similar to one operated by Fás before the Mahon Point Shopping Centre was built in Cork and which resulted in 400 people being taken off the long-term unemployed list.

“We have already informed trade union representatives of our interest in working with them, the regeneration communities and State training agencies to enhance skills to ensure a large jobs dividend for those who are unemployed,” Mr Sharma said.

“This is an opportunity to embrace a transformative project which will send a strong positive message about Limerick and its future plus complete a project that lies as a monument to past excesses and failures.”

Mr Sharma is a former independent member of the NI Policing Board.


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