A massive 130,000 sq ft retail complex and streetscape is being planned for a 10.6 acre site at Church Road in Tullamore.
Flanagan Properties is behind the venture which will be located on the former Coen site and incorporate the old Fitzpatrick’s garage which will be knocked.
Riverside Centre, as it will be known, represents a €20m investment by Flanagan Properties in the town and will have a mix of 15 retail units, including a cinema, a number of cafe restaurants and eight residential units.
It’s predicted the centre will employ in excess of 240 people once fully operational, with a further 100 employed during the construction phase. Christmas 2020 is the target date for its opening.
Speaking to the Tribune, Managing Director Tony Flanagan said national and international retailers have displayed a keen interest in Riverside and it’s anticipated it will be home to many outlets.
Both he and his daughter Karen have spent the last 18 months planning and speaking to a wide variety of interested parties.
“We can’t get over how enthusiastic they (retailers) have been. Firstly they can’t believe how big the site is, and they can’t believe they are not in Tullamore already. We are talking about big names. We have spoken to them all and none of them have ruled Tullamore out. They are all very interested. We are very heartened by that. A lot of them didn’t get an opportunity in the last 10 to 15 years, because there hasn’t been significant units available to them in the town,” said Mr Flanagan.
“The leakage from Tullamore to other locations is quite significant, not just Athlone Portlaoise and Mullingar, it’s Kildare Village and Liffey Valley. We think it’s an indictment on ourselves that we have allowed a lot of this leakage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Karen Flanagan said when doing research on potential shoppers they found that within a 35k radius of the town there is a population of over 200,000. “Compared with Athlone we are way ahead. That’s what retailers are looking for,” she said.
Ms Flanagan has promised that women will be well catered for in the new complex which should prevent the haemorrhage of shoppers to nearby towns. “It has taken some time as we want to get the right kind of client as well. Hopefully Tullamore will now be a town that people will come to. We have one very big anchor tenant that will sell a range of different products,” said Ms Flanagan.
The proposed new complex will link up Harbour Street, Henry Street and Church road making it possible to walk along Riverside and into the complex which will then bring people onto a brand new street joining Church road.
“There will be permeability through town and new linkages formed. It will open up the whole town, and take the pressure off Henry Street,”stressed Mr Flanagan.
Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has welcomed the proposal for the development.
Deputy Cowen, who played a key role in ensuring the availability of the site for commercial development, said it would represent a huge boost to the town, creating in excess of 200 jobs.
“To see this development being submitted for planning following a lot of hard work on the part of many people is very welcome,” stated Deputy Cowen.
“As part of the planning application an environmental and retail impact assessment will be undertaken. I understand both are positively disposed to this project. To see both national and international retailers taking an interest in the town gives me great hope for its future and I know that the people of Tullamore and the surrounding communities would be delighted to see new leisure and retail offerings.
“If successful, the jobs created both in the construction phase and once opened would bring knock-on benefits to the midlands area. It’s vitally important that we welcome developments such as this and continue to re-establish Tullamore as an energetic town”, concluded Deputy Cowen.