The former Denny bacon plant — seen as a catalyst for the regeneration of the centre of the town — was handed over earlier this year to the local town council, by the Kerry Group, without preconditions.
The 2.5-acre site, vacated in 2008, is to be cleared in the coming months and plans are to develop a facility similar to the Milk Market area in Limerick.
While plans are still at an early stage, the idea is it will include a farmers’ market, an area for new businesses and crafts and a performance area for entertainers.
Tralee mayor Jim Finucane said the development would rejuvenate the centre of Tralee.
“People will be able to see the potential of this well-located property and the possibilities if offers once the site is cleared,” he said.
“The development of this site is one of my priorities for my year in office. I believe it will add greatly to the heart of Tralee and will draw more local people and visitors into the town.
“Research is under way at present and a number of local groups are making submissions. It offers very exciting possibilities and I want whatever happens with the site to be innovative and distinctive.”
Due to its central location, the mayor felt the site would be suitable for a market-type development.
Originally known as Slattery’s bacon factory, the plant was taken over by the Denny company in 1943 and sold to the Kerry Group in 1982. Upwards of 400 people were employed there at its peak.
The global food giant, whose corporate headquarters are in Tralee, hoped the site would “facilitate an in-depth plan for the (town) centre” when it announced the handing-over of the property.
Mayor Finucane, meanwhile, said another of his priorities would be to focus on the growth of Tralee. That would include finalising the purchase of Kerry Technology Park where start-up and some established enterprises are based, by the Institute of Technology (IT), Tralee, and to achieve technological university status for the IT.
He said a team effort was needed between Tralee Municipal Authority and the Tralee Chamber Alliance to stimulate economic activity and instil confidence in business.
Mayor Finucane also hopes to host a meeting with the US Chamber of Commerce with a view to attracting chiefs executive of top US corporations to Tralee.
He also said it was essential the proposed LNG gas terminal near Ballylongford, on the Shannon Estuary, was progressed.