Shopping centre on the Border to be expanded in £35m project
THE Quays Shopping Centre in Newry -- a favourite of southern shoppers at Christmas -- is planning a £35m (€40m) expansion, including 600 more parking spaces.
The developer is Northern Ireland property business Parker Green, which featured former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as vice chairman of its international advisory board until October 2010.
Parker Green boss Dr Gerard O'Hare is a visiting professor at Queen's in Belfast, as well as a property magnate. He features as the North's fourth-richest man in the 'Sunday Times' rich lists, with wealth of around £220m.
Last night he told the Irish Independent that financing for the project had yet to to be arranged, but was confident money would be available. The new development was "demand led" with half of the planned new space already reserved, mostly by UK retail multiples. Building work is due to start in late 2012, with completion expected to be late 2013.
He said footfall at the Quays was down by around 10pc last year but retailers were betting on a recovery in the Northern Ireland economy.
The Quays is well-known on both sides of the Border and boomed in recent years when the euro surged against sterling. Its location helped make it one of the busiest shopping centres on the island, as shoppers from the Republic flocked north for bargains.
The centre was valued at £71m in 2009, according to Parker Green's accounts, and was developed with loans from Anglo Irish Bank, which has a mortgage on the development.
The new development is expected to create around 200 construction jobs and will support around 300 retail and other jobs on completion, according to the company.