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City carpark with €4 million price tag gets new owners



A city centre carpark – which has planning permission for a major retail, office and residential development – has been sold for an undisclosed sum after attracting significant interest from potential buyers.

Selling agents DNG Maxwell, Heaslip & Leonard are remaining tight-lipped on the selling price and the identity of the buyer of the Market Street carpark, which had a price tag of €4 million.

Alan Maxwell told the Galway City Tribune he could not disclose any information on the winning tender.

“There was a lot of interest in the site,” he added.

In the short-term, there is a four-year management agreement in place until January 2018 for the operation of the 86-space carpark, which has an annual income of €310,000 after costs.

The site – which measures around two-thirds of an acre – contains planning permission until June 2019 for an 83,000 square foot development.

The redevelopment plan includes two blocks overlooking a pedestrianised street, giving access from Market Street into Bowling Green, with a civic square at the centre of the site.

Block A ranges from four storeys in height fronting onto Market Street and a single storey onto Bowling Green. There would be retail accommodation in the basement, ground and first floors, with offices on the second and third floor, and 4 two-bed apartments on the first, second and third floors towards the Bowling Green end of the site.

Block B ranges from four storeys on Market Street to two storeys on Bowling Green, with retail space on basement, ground and first floor levels, offices on the second floor and 2 two-bed apartments and 2 three-bed apartments on the third floor.

There will also be basement parking for 25 cars with access from Bowling Green.

Developers Hugh Heskin and Pat O’Grady bought the Market Street carpark in 2004 for around €10m, with plans for the major city centre regeneration scheme.

They said they were unable to secure finance when permission was initially granted in May 2009, but expected it could be completed by late 2018, but subsequently placed the site on the market last September.

The developers had said: “Funding for the project could not be sourced to commence the development during the duration of the permission due to the prevailing economic conditions and associated lending restrictions.

“The funding issue arose primarily as a result of the extremely poor state of the commercial sector during the financial crisis since 2008.

“The proposal will set back both blocks from the existing boundary wall onto Bowling Green and includes the widening of footpaths and improved surface treatment along this frontage,” the application reads.

In 2006, the Planning Appeals Board overturned a City Council decision and rejected plans for a €10million multi-storey carpark, residential and retail development on the site.

That application was for 60 residential units, a 332sqm retail unit and multi-storey carpark with 158 spaces. The plans ranged from two storeys on Bowling Green to five storeys over-basement onto Market Street.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors



Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre



An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis



Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

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