Thursday 23 January 2020

Bidders sought for €25m Bray retail park on derelict former Ballymore site

The site of the proposed 'Florentine Centre'.
The site of the proposed 'Florentine Centre'.

Simon Rowe

A public sale process has opened to find a developer to build a €25m retail hub in Bray on a site formerly owned by Ballymore Properties.

Wicklow County Council has launched a pre-qualification process for bidders looking to buy the proposed Florentine Centre site which has lain derelict for a decade.

Bray Town Council purchased the site of the proposed Florentine Shopping Centre in Bray for nearly €2m in 2013 from Grant Thornton, the receiver of Florentine Properties Ltd - a company formerly controlled by Sean Mulryan's firm - which went into receivership with debts of €23m. The sale offer has strict conditions as regards the development that has to take place on the site including two anchor stores - with a combined size of 4,149sq m - eight retail units, a five-screen multiplex cinema, three restaurants, business units, plus 250 car parking spaces and 320 cycle spaces.

Wicklow Council will shortlist three bidders after the initial pre-qualification process.

"Interested developers/builders will be reduced to a shortlist of three, and the second stage of the competition will be based chiefly on the financial offer, and on how quickly the development can be completed and open for business. It is hoped that the centre will be open within two years," said a council spokesman.

"The council's vision is for the centre to be a driver for the regeneration and rejuvenation for the commercial centre of Bray. A key aim will be to attract established fashion retailers to the centre, with shops of a size necessary to achieve this," he said.

Wicklow County Council does not intend to retain equity in the development or be part of the management of the centre once commissioned and occupied.

The successful tenderer will be granted a licence to build on the site and an agreement for a lease of 999 years will become operative once the development is completed within the time limit.

"There is an excellent market interest in this process already," said the council spokesman.

The long-delayed project has been beset with problems. Ballymore got planning permission for a €100m development in April 2007 after seeing off a number of appeals from local opponents who claimed it would threaten their businesses.

The original Ballymore project also saw off a rival plan for another Bray site backed by property developer Paddy Kelly.

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