The owner of a major retail and office building that is lying empty at the Fairgreen – a former director of the disgraced Anglo Irish Bank – is still confident an anchor tenant can be attracted.
Tom Browne, the former Head of Irish Lending at Anglo, said a permanent occupier will be found now that the recession has “bottomed out”.
His ‘Ballybrit Partnership’ investment vehicle has sought an Extension of Duration for a facelift to the ‘Castlehope’ development adjacent to the Radisson Blu hotel.
Planning permission is set to expire on a proposal to construct a new lobby and ground floor circulation area, a ‘break-out’ extension to the front and new doors to the ground floor retail area.
However, Mr Browne wants permission extended until 2019.
“Funding for the project could not be sourced to commence the development during the duration of the [original] permission due to the prevailing economic conditions and associated lending restrictions.
“The funding issue arose primarily as a function of the lack of a permanent occupier of the relevant commercial floor space and the poor state of the commercial sector during the financial crisis since 2008.
“However, having regard to the ‘bottoming out’ of the recession, [Mr Browne] is confident that the proposed development, which constitutes the provision of high quality alterations to an existing development, will be attractive to the market and achieve the required funding to implement the development in the coming years,” the application reads.
Mr Browne left Anglo in 2008 on a basic salary of €455,000 with an €800,000 bonus.
The second member of the Ballybrit Partnership is John Hughes, a former Head of Business Banking with AIB in Eyre Square.
It is understood the duo purchased the Castlehope building – which stretches from beside the WebWorks building to the Radisson Blu Hotel and includes Exchange House and the Revenue’s ‘Geata na Cathrach’ premises – in 2008.
The site was originally owned and developed by Castlehope Ltd, which was owned by Bernard McNamara, Christ Hirst and Jerry O’Reilly.
Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway
The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.
The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.
According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.
“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.
“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.
Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.
“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.
“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base
The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.
The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.
BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY
Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.
Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.
“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.
The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.
It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.
The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.
Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.
“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.
The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.
Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number
Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.
Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim. Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.
Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.
Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.
He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.
“It is top of my agenda,” he said.
He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.