A target date of November 12 has been set for the re-opening of Douglas Village Shopping Centre which closed almost a year ago after a major fire destroyed a key part of the retail complex.
The re-opening, just in time for the crucial Christmas trading period, will see the reinstatement of up to 1,000 much-needed car parking spaces in the Cork city suburb, as well as the re-opening of up to 46 commercial units, including retail giant Tesco, closed since fire gutted the centre’s multistorey carpark on August 31 last.
Hopes that the centre would re-open this summer were dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the closure of construction sites.
With the recent easing of restrictions, the main contractors, PJ Hegarty and Sons, resumed work at the Douglas site on May 18.
“We’ve reviewed the schedule in the last two weeks since we came back and we've had discussions with all the subcontractors and everyone has bought into the new opening date of November 12,” said Hegarty contracts manager Gearóid Walsh.
He said that excludes “anymore unforeseens” such as:
- Having to erect a massive screen, at a cost of €120,000, to shield the project from rubbernecking motorists passing by on the N40 flyover
- Installation of sprinkler system on Levels 1 & 2 of carpark
- Having to demolish most of the units in the midsection of the centre, on the carpark side, after it emerged their structure had been compromised by the fire
- Having to use remote controlled robots for safety reasons to remove dozens of cars, including the “vehicle of interest” that caused the fire, so as not to damage crucial pieces of evidence which 24 forensic scientists subsequently inspected.
Mr Walsh said the location of the fire was such that it caused maximum disruption, despite damaging less than 3% of the complex, with 12% having to be re-built.
“It seems like a small area but it is at the heart of the building and all the management systems are in that zone,” said shopping centre manager Bartosz Mieszala.
This included the ESB substation which powered every single unit, which means every unit has to be rewired.
There was no possibility of re-opening the complex in sections, because the fire’s location meant they had lost the ramp into the carpark.
The library will be re-opening. Mr Mieszala said Dennehy’s gym will also re-open.
Mr Walsh said they’ve given Tesco a date of 29 Sept “when they can come in with shop fitters”.
M&S has “a little more to do” as it lost its stores area in the fire.
Units between Puccini’s restaurant and M&S are intact, as well as TK Maxx and Starbucks, which are on the same end of the Mall.