Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

Smyth seeks proposals for re-opening of cinema

Major operators in frame as state agency requests tender process

Donal Buckley

Developer and solicitor Noel Smyth has invited major cinema operators to submit proposals for the re-opening of the cinema in The Square shopping centre in Tallaght, Dublin, as part of talks with NAMA.

The move could see two Irish operators -- Ward Anderson and the Butler brothers, Ciaran and Colum -- competing for the opportunity as both have experienced recent setbacks in their efforts to target Tallaght film fans.

The cinema closed down 12 months ago after the Butler brothers' two-year lease on the property came to an end.

Then last summer it was reported that Ireland's leading cinema operators Ward Anderson had agreed with Mr Smyth's company Alburn to a €10m investment plan which would see the upgrading of the cinema with 12 new digital and 3D cinemas and a refurbishment of seating.

The finance was reported to be coming from Anglo Irish Bank. However, when some of Alburn's loans were transferred to Nama, the state agency insisted on Alburn seeking expressions of interest from other operators.

Alburn director Nigel Kinnaird declined to comment on the nature of any agreement with Ward Anderson. However, he said that as part of the Nama process the state agency had requested Alburn to test the market in order to ensure transparency.

"Our agents have targeted pedigree cinema operators who would be willing to invest in a major upgrading of the cinemas," he added.

The agents are DTZ Sherry FitzGerald and Bannon.

The closing dates for submissions is the end of this month and he hopes to sign up the new cinema operator by May.

The Butler brothers have operated a number of cinemas, but they too suffered setbacks for some of their plans.

After they withdrew from The Square cinema, which they operated under the UCI franchise, they had agreed to take a cinema on a 25-year lease in a Bernard McNamara development next to The Square in Tallaght.

In addition to the cinema, it was expected that they would also locate some of their other businesses such as one of their TGI Fridays restaurants in the McNamara development.

Mr McNamara's company, Laytar, was put into receivership in January of this year. It is believed that Anglo Irish Bank's mortgage on this property was transferred to Nama.

Another of their planned cinema and leisure complexes to be developed by Mr McNamara next to the Balally Luas stop in Dundrum, Dublin 14, also suffered a setback when the development company Cicol was also placed into receivership in January.

Irish Independent

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