“We are talking to Penneys,” said Enda Donohoe of Oakmount, in the first confirmation from any quarter that the store is at least in the game when it comes to the anchor tenancy at Bray Central.
“But we are talking to others too,” he said.
Developers Oakmount have revised the date of practical completion to January 2022.
Challenges got in the way of earlier completion, with forced site closures over the past 18 months, followed by trouble getting contractors in place, common to the industry.
“All our wheels are off the ground here,” said Enda. “We’ve gone airborne, it can’t be aborted. It’s going to happen, and when you walk through that door there you see how close it is. Everyone is working really hard to get it open to the public as quickly as possible.”
On a walk through the complex, Enda started at the service entrance, where trucks can come in from Florence Road, deliver and turn in the delivery yard, and leave without reversing into the road.
All deliveries that come in here are are distributed to the centre by goods lifts and service corridors.
Materials are stacked up around the site, ready to finish out areas.
One to the car park, very nearly finished, where some further deliveries such as fire doors and railings are being stored. There are two floors of underground parking.
The space is big and open. “The plan is that you drive into the car park here from Florence Road,” said Enda. “Wherever you park, you’re directed to the core where lifts, stairs and travellators will bring you up to the main centre.”
The crane was moved a couple of weeks ago. “The crane was one of the first items to go in here on site,” said Enda. “It’s near the last item to come out.”
Closing in of the area once occupied by the crane was under way. “We’re at the last stage of that now. Once that’s done, we bring back in our other trades and subcontractors in glazing, lift contractors and things like that.”
They’re all geared up to come back this week, he said. “It was key to get these works finished and get subcontractors back in one go and it’s all ready to go now.
The removal of the crane was a big job, it having a massive reach of 70 metres. “When you build around a crane you’ve got to factor how to take it down,” said Enda. “We had to use a 450 tonne mobile crane and that takes a lot of planning and logistics, including agreement with the council to get lane closures. Getting it all geared up and lined up was a challenge but we’ve surpassed it now.”
In the main plaza, there is limestone granite, with street lighting in place and waterproofing and drainage to be done.
Enda pointed out where Elephant and Castle will be located, as well as the six-screen Stella Cinema, and Burt’s Bowl 10-lane American Bowling.
When it was pointed out that there is already a bowling alley in Bray, he said it’s a different style.
Stella cinema will be in a period theme, similar to that in the Rathmines Stella. There will be different sized screens.
The foyer will include two big brass escalators, and brass lift doors, and on the first floor there will be a turn towards Burt’s Bowl, fitted in an old American style.
“You can have two completely different restaurants, or two different clothes shops, right beside each other,” Enda said. “Our concept here is if we build something, it’s not to compete or take business away from other people, it’s to draw people in, people have bigger variety to choose from.”
Looking at the main anchor area, Enda said that they are “at the latter part of negotiations with parties who are interested, and going through legals’”
Is it Penneys? Possibly. They are at the table, Enda confirmed. As are others.
“I’m meeting another client here this morning,” he said. “I can’t tell you who it is.”
The anchor area can be sub-divided in different ways. “There are a few variables, we’re very close to getting things firmed up.”
Other stores and units will be held by Oakmount’s Press-Up entertainment, and Enda said there is flexibility for a wide range of tenants.
Work is already being done off-site to prepare for the fit-out of their own businesses, the cinema, restaurants and bowling alley.
They are procuring materials, and designers are at work. “We’re nearly there,” he said.
As for the other businesses, fit-out will be different for them all. “Design teams and tenants are coming in on a regular basis.”
As for when exactly the shopping centre as a whole will open, that is a question that can’t currently be answered to the date. “We have that added interest in getting it open as we’re retaining part of it ourselves,” said Enda, adding that his own family in Wicklow have been among those to ask him regularly when they can expect to go to the shops and cinema up the road.
Trades, though, will be ramping up from this week, he said. “Everyone involved has bought into a practical completion date of January 2022.”