Tuesday 23 January 2018

Will wrecking ball swing into action?

The derelict Avena Mills apartment complex in Ballisodare has become a target for anti-social behaviour.
The derelict Avena Mills apartment complex in Ballisodare has become a target for anti-social behaviour.

Harry Keaney

The wrecking ball could soon be swinging toward an eyesore Ballisodare apartment complex.

The government has announced €250,000 for work on the derelict Avena Mill apartments.

Now Sligo County Council is hoping it gets the owners to demolish the building.

A Council spokesman told The Sligo Champion: "The funding was sought by the council for demolition of the development.

"We will be sitting down with the owners to see can this now be progressed."

However, the spokesman pointed out that demolition would cost more than the €250,000 allocated.

He added: "We will be saying to the owners, we have got this money. You have to come up with your portion. We would be hoping the owners would demolish it."

A Department spokesman told The Sligo Champion he expected the vast majority of the money would be spent this year. He said some developers and lenders would also be contributing.

The council spokesman said any work done would be subject to agreement with the owners, who are believed to be in NAMA.

He added: "It's their property. Our intention would be to sit down and get agreement with the owners."

Ballisodare Community Council Chairman Tom Corcoran welcomed the announcement of funding. He said: "We hope the funding would go toward making the apartments safer or demolishing them. They are a community hazard."

He said the hoardings would render the place safer. "But it would want to be a short term thing," he said. The government funding announced Friday is part of a €10m national fund for unfinished estates.

Meanwhile, hoardings have been erected at Avena Mills to keep out intruders. And there are now renewed calls for the entire Mill apartments complex to be demolished.

Local councillor Michael Clarke said: "It's an eyesore. "That building has to come down.

"It was ridiculous trying to put 200 families into two acres."

He added: "It was very lucky that building didn't succeed.

"It would have caused a huge social problem if it went ahead."

Clr Clarke said a new development, such as a hotel or restaurant, should be developed to enhance the area. "It's a beautiful area beside the river," he said.

The building has been the scene of repeated acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Some 74 apartments were built in five blocks at the site and the development was completed in 2006.

However, no one ever moved in and it quickly became a target for thieves and vandals.

Most apartments had their fixtures and fittings ripped out and stolen and windows were smashed.

It became a venue for drinking parties.

Cllr Declan Bree said: "The Avena Mills complex has fallen into an appalling state of disrepair in recent years.

"It certainly is a terrible eyesore and does a major disservice to the village. It is a classic monument to the 'Celtic Tiger' years and the sooner it is demolished the better."

Other unfinished estates in the county to benefit from the fund include:

Dromore, Castlebaldwin (€250,000), Granary Drive, Grange (€95,000), Carraig Abhainn, Ballisodare (€250,000), Knoxville Manor, Bellaghy (€41,957 and Davitt Court, Gurteen (€22,280).

Sligo Champion

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