Town Hall meeting hears of big hopes for BIDS
The last of the Town Hall Forum meetings took place in the Westcourt Hotel with encouraging signs that the new BIDS scheme could see Drogheda transformed in the future.
Local retailer, Niall Kierans, speaking about his family business, Kierans's Deli, and its experiences over the last 100 years.
He went on to describe the changes he has seen over his 35 years in business in West St. and how almost all the businesses, between the Tholsel and Stockwell St, have since vanished, with the exception of Dunnes Stores, the EBS and Kierans Deli.
He further elaborated how this trend is likely to continue, by way of competition from discount retailers and the internet, and by virtue of the fact that most family businesses are no longer attractive to their next generation. He suggested that our town and city centres of the future will be mostly about niche retailing, services and entertainment. Our traditional retail mix will be subject to massive imminent change.
He concluded his talk on a positive note by highlighting the potential benefit of impending City status and of the current attempt by many of the current Ratepayers to launch a 'Business Improvement Scheme' for the betterment of Drogheda. This scheme, already in Dundalk, has been championed for Drogheda by another of the speakers at this event, local man, Geoff Fitzpatrick of Fitz Scientific.
More details of this ambitious and exciting scheme, a potential 'game changer' for Droghedas' Town, Tourism, Enterprise and Lifestyle will be made available shortly through various media.
Gabriel O'Brien, REA O'Brien Collins estate agents, spoke about the recovery in residential property values over the last 5 year period. However, it was noted that there were signs of a slowdown in the market as price recovery was in some instances ahead of purchasers' affordability.
Access to finance and an increased supply of new homes locally contributed to a flatlining of values in the second hand residential market. Gabriel went on to highlight certain residential opportunities which were not being catered for within the town boundary; namely quality apartments and townhouses for the growing 65+ age category / down-sizing market and the single person market.
He also highlighted the need for imaginative taxation measures for property owners to convert vacant upper floors of town centre buildings to actively encourage "living over the shop" which would help bring a much needed vibrancy back to the town centre outside of retailing hours.