Rent-free city centre shop units fail to attract tenants

AN OFFER to beat most in the rented shop market still cannot attract takers in Limerick city centre.

Three units on Sarsfield Street, just metres from O’Connell Street have an 18-month rental-free kick-in period.

The rental-free offer is worth almost €600,000 but, while there has been a level of interest since the properties were put on offer five months ago, no tenants have been prepared to sign on the dotted line.

A spokesperson for auctioneers O’Connor Murphy Gubbins said: “There has been quite a lot of interest and we are open to offers.”

The three adjoining units cover a total of 3,500sq ft and the annual rental to the three vary from €108,000, €142,000 and €143,000.

To avail of the free-rental offer a tenant has to sign up for a 25-year lease.

And city-centre traders face the likelihood of a rates hike for the first time in three years.

As the city council commences work in preparing the book of estimates for 2009, measures announced in the budget will mean the council will get €800,000 less in government funding.

Labour leader on the council, Cllr Joe Leddin, said yesterday the Government had forced the council’s hand with regard to rate increases.

He said: “The local government fund represents approximately 15% of the city council’s overall annual budget which for 2008 was just less than €88 million. Aside from grants, rents and commercial water charges, the only other source of income for the council is the commercial ratepayer.

Cllr Diarmuid Scully said Limerick is getting less from Government than it gives.

Mr Scully said: “In effect we subsidise other better funded local authorities. If we were simply allowed to spend locally the tax money we raise locally, we would not be in this mess.”

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