Douglas Village Shopping Centre, destroyed by fire in 2019, is still on track to reopen on November 12 despite the six-week Level 5 lockdown.
The two anchor tenants, retail giant Tesco and luxury retail brand Marks and Spencer, are currently restocking with a view to re-commencing trading on the target date.
The scaffolding that had surrounded the centre along the North Road has now been removed and workers were this week resurfacing the road which was damaged in the aftermath of the fire when steel from the multi-storey car park had to be pulled down.
However some of the smaller units not considered “essential retail” will remain closed for now.
Those permitted to open under the current Level 5 criteria include the two supermarkets as well as the butcher shop, the bank, and the pharmacy.
While leading off-price clothing and homeware retailer Tk Maxx is due to make a return to the shopping centre, its stores are closed under the existing lockdown.
As regards the reopening of the centre’s library, a spokesperson for Cork City Council said their aim is that it will be ready during the third week of December, albeit “reopening is dependent on Covid-19 restrictions”.
“Work is continuing on the purchase of books. Furniture and shelving is ordered and due for delivery in mid-November and work on the refit continues,” the spokesperson said.
The reopening of Tesco comes with the additional good news that the supermarket giant is creating 450 full time permanent jobs nationwide, including 120 in Cork, as well as 700 temporary posts over the Christmas trading period.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin was in Tesco’s Douglas store to announce the new jobs.
During the Douglas closure, workers were redeployed to other stores in Cork, but Tesco said they are now returning to Douglas in preparation for welcoming customers on Thursday, November 12 and that 30 new colleagues will be added to the store team.
News that the centre’s reopening remains on course will be welcomed by shoppers and retailers alike in the run up to the crucial Christmas shopping period.
The fire that destroyed the centre in August 2019 delivered a devastating blow to retailers, with just under 50 retail units unable to physically operate from the premises since then. It also meant the loss of approximately 1,000 car parking spaces in Douglas Village where on-street parking is minimal, as well as a disastrous drop in footfall for traders based on the village main street.
The centre had been due to reopen during the summer, but hopes were dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the closure of construction sites for seven weeks.
Work recommenced on May 18.
The fire that destroyed the centre was caused by an allegedly defective Opel Zafira car that went on fire in the car park and caused a massive blaze.
The location of the blaze was such that it caused maximum disruption, despite damaging less than 3% of the complex, with 12% having to be rebuilt.