LIMERICK City and City Council have been asked to put the former Debenhams store on their shopping list for residential use.
Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin believes that the local authority have the vehicle through its Designated Activities Companies (DAC) to masterplan the future use of Debenhams.
This, he told the Limerick Post, could include both residential, educational, and co-located office hubs to bring considerable footfall back into the heart of the city.
“Shops aren’t what they used to be. The e-commerce revolution has left many retail stores empty around the world with many located in the heart of city centres,” he said.
“The result is a truly staggering amount of defunct or soon-to-be-defunct retail floor space. The big hope is that recycling retail property can provide a new supply of workspace, housing, and educational space that could transform many town centres.”
Cllr Leddin went onto say that the Council, in the absence of private sector investment, can and should spearhead the acquisition and transformation of the former Debenhams, bringing new footfall to safeguard the future viability of the city centre.
“Why wait for years and watch the building remain derelict when we have access to finance from the EU, together with appropriate expertise to redevelop the building and enhance the continued transformation of the city to complement the Opera Site project, the UL redevelopment of the former Dunnes Stores, and soon-to-open International Rugby Museum.”
In response, the Council’s Director of Planning Nuala Gallagher said they are engaging with landowners and stakeholders in the Arthur’s Quay area to advance the world-class Waterfront Urban Regeneration Development Fund Programme and deliver a comprehensive framework for this part of the city.
“The current site is in ownership of a third party who is actively engaging with the council and the framework to progress development,” she concluded.