Council bid to lure shops back into city

INCENTIVES are being offered to attract retailers into Limerick city centre which has suffered continuing shop closures.

The pilot Retail Incentive Scheme for vacant properties has been drawn up by the city council and will target key shopping streets.

Grants will be offered towards the fitting out of vacant shops in O’Connell Street, William Street, Shannon Street, Roches Street, Catherine Street, Little Catherine Street, Henry Street, Liddy Street, Honan’s Quay, Denmark Street, Cruises Street, Todd’s Row, Chapel Street, Bedford Row, Thomas Street, Sarsfield Street and the north-east half of Patrick Street and Rutland Street.

Furthermore, priority will be given to “higher order” retail outlets including fashion and lifestyle stores, flagship shops along with niche and specialist retailers such as home furnishings, beauty products, jewellery and books.

Mayor Maria Byrne said a clustering of potential new stores, in particular at basement, ground and first floor levels, will help to develop a vibrant retail quarter.

She said: “Retailing is playing an increasing role in the economic development of cities. The existence of an attractive vibrant city centre coupled with a high quality retail offer is essential to the future viability of Limerick city centre.

“In order to attract ‘new blood’ to the Limerick city centre retail mix, it is essential to provide the framework to accommodate the scale of retailing with the type of desirable retail spaces that leading retailers will demand.”

Under the scheme, grant relief will be based on certified fit-out costs subject to a maximum of 50% of the annual rates liability for the first year and to a maximum of 25% of the annual rates liability for the second year.

Ms Byrne said: “The retail incentive scheme for vacant properties will provide a positive impact on the city centre by reducing the number of vacant premises and improving the overall retail offer in the city centre. This will in turn positively enhance the overall economic vitality and viability of the city centre both for existing and new businesses.”

The scheme was recommended in the Mid-West Retail Strategy 2010-2016 document.

A public consultation period of four weeks will now take place with the scheme expected to commence in April 2011.

lRetailers wishing to take part in the scheme should contact the Economic Development section on Limerick City Council on 061 407100 or visit www.limerickcity.ie.

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