Trader in historic part of city says the area still has ‘huge potential’ but ‘is like the land that time forgot’
The owner of one of Cork’s oldest businesses has led calls for investment in historic North Main St amid trader concerns sparked by the impending closure of its Dunnes Stores outlet.
Michael Creedon, who runs Bradley’s specialist off-licence and food-store —which has been trading on the street since 1850 — said the Dunnes closure will hit trade. However, he said public investment could help untap the huge potential still in the area.
“This is the historic spine of the city but we are like the land that time forgot,” he said.
“The closure of Dunnes will have a big effect but I wouldn’t overstate it. We are not living in a parallel universe here on this street. We’re a small city. You can walk from one side to the other in 10 minutes.
“We are a few hundred yards from massive investment in the Capitol cinema site, and close to where they are building an events centre.
“Property isn’t that expensive here, and it’s primed for somebody to come in. It just takes the right person to see the potential. I’m surprised that potential hasn’t been seen yet.”
Mr Creedon was speaking after confirmation that Dunnes plans to close its North Main St branch on May 21, and redeploy staff to other branches.
Several local traders warned the closure could sound the death knell for the street coming in the wake of other North Main St business closures, including Molloys, Roman House, Maher’s Sports, and Aunt Nellies Sweet Shop.
Other business owners in the North Main St shopping centre also expressed concern that the anchor tenant is leaving.
“It will affect footfall massively,” one trader said.
“We’re very worried. Closing is a massive, massive worry and the whole future of the centre is at stake really. Without Dunnes, without an anchor tenant, the business might not be there. We need customers if we’re going to stay open.”
Mr Creedon called for incentives to encourage people to live in the city centre.
Facilitating more people to live and work in the city centre would increase footfall and trade, he said.
“There is no question that this area needs investment, in street lighting, footpaths, in the timber bollards,” said Mr Creedon. “Our laneways need investment too. But that investment would be an investment in the city.”
Dunnes Stores, which has outlets on St Patrick’s St, Merchants Quay, Blackpool, and Ballyvolane, and which has faced increased competition in the city from Lidl and Aldi, did not respond to queries yesterday about why it is closing the North Main St outlet, or on its plans for the future of the property.
Cork Business Association chief executive Lawrence Owens called on key stakeholders to prepare a plan to revitalise the street.
The city’s head of planning, Pat Ledwidge, said the closure of any retailer is a loss to the city.
“Any loss is regrettable but clearly, the company is closing this branch for commercial reasons,” said Mr Ledwidge.
“It is a large unit and we will seek to engage with the building owners on possible future uses. The zoning in the area is flexible.”
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