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NAMA progresses plans for 300 Knocknacarra homes



NAMA has sought five more years to develop 300 homes as well as retail units, a bar, restaurant and offices on a site in Knocknacarra.

Once valued at €80 million at the height of the boom, the development would now be worth around €30m.

The National Asset Management Agency said that because of the property crash, the project was not viable, until now.

The 23-acre site on the Upper Ballymoneen Road in the townlands of Ballyburke, Mincloon and Keeraun had been owned by Galway ‘Tiger’ developers Declan Gardiner, Joe McGrath and Martin Kearns, but was seized by NAMA in August 2012.

Receivers Con Cronin and Roger Keogh pointed out that when planning permission was granted (by An Bord Pleanála) in 2009, house prices were in the process of dropping by 60% in the city.

They said the developers were not in a position to secure funding and the market continued to deteriorate, leading to them being appointed receivers by NAMA.

The developers had originally sought permission for around 360 homes, but subsequently reduced this to 299 residential units following discussions with planners.

The plans involve the demolition of two existing houses, sheds and outbuildings and the construction of crèche, three retail units (225 square metres) and three office units (212 sqm) and a bar/restaurant (512 sqm).

The site lies beyond Council-owned land opposite the Slí Gheal and Fána Búrca estates.

The residential element involves 299 units in varying design and form, in two and three storey blocks, bin storage, ESB substation, surface and basement car parking and three vehicular access points and road widening along Ballymoneen Road.

NAMA has now sought a five-year Extension of Duration on the planning permission – which is set to expire in July – claiming the development will be completed by the end of 2018.

“The proposed site has remained undeveloped since permission was granted in 2009. The original applicant was not in a position to secure funding for the development and the market deteriorated rapidly in the intervening years, which led to the applicant entering into receivership. Both the local and national property market has declined significantly since the grant of permission.

“On average, house prices have dropped from peak levels by 58.7% in Galway City. The average price for a three-bed unit in Galway City has dropped from €287,000 at the end of 2008 to €130,000 at the end of 2013.

“This has had a dramatic effect on those investing in properties as sites were purchased base on Q4 2008 prices. The subsequent collapse in house prices reduced the viability of the subject development, until now.

“It is the intention of the appointed receiver to ensure that this development is completed and this can only be achieved if an Extension of Duration is granted,” the application reads.

A decision is expected from city planners in mid-April.


Matriarch of Scotty’s Diner donates kidney to her son!



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A well-known family in the Galway restaurant trade have swapped chef whites for hospital gowns after the matriarch donated a kidney to her son.

Jenny and Andrew Ishmael, synonymous with Scotty’s Diner in Cúirt na Coiribe on the Headford Road in Terryland, are recovering in Beaumont Hospital after the marathon live donor operation.

It took place last Monday and staff are so impressed by the quick recovery of mother and son that they could be discharged as early as this weekend.

“It went really well. I’m still a bit sore. We’re still on the mend. It’s working perfectly,” says Andrew from the isolation ward of the hospital’s Kidney Centre.  “My creatine was over 1,000 when I came in and it’s already around 260.

“I felt weak after the surgery, but I could feel that bit of life in me again straight away. It’s amazing how quick it works. Mom wasn’t too great after the surgery – it was her first ever. She was quite sore, a bit iffy, but she’s good now.

“We have rooms back-to-back. We’ve been going for walks, going for breakfast together. It’s nice to spend that time together.”

Andrew – or Drew as he’s known to family and friends –  was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was just 16.

Berger’s Disease occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin builds up in the kidneys and results in inflammation, which over time, can hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.

He managed the condition well for over a decade without too much impact on his life.

The son of classically trained chefs who studied together at Johnson and Wales College in Rhode Island, he grew up working in his parents’ American-style diner, trading since 1991.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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New River Corrib rescue boat to be deployed following ‘significant donation’



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The provision of a specialist rescue craft on the Corrib – upstream from the Weir – could now happen over the coming weeks or months following a ‘significant voluntary donation’ in the past few weeks, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

Water safety issues on the Corrib were highlighted last month when up to 10 rowers had to be rescued after their two boats were sucked in by the currents towards the Weir.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the potentially catastrophic incident which occurred around midday on Saturday, January 14.

A specialist D Class lifeboat is now being sourced as part of a multi-agency approach to try and improve emergency rescue operations upstream from the Weir which would be accessible on a 24/7 basis.

While the cost would be in the region of €40,000 to €50,000, the overall figure would rise to around €80,000 to €90,000 when specialist personnel training costs were included.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune that he was aware of a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and get the Corrib rescue craft in place as soon as possible.

“I suppose we’re all trying to work together to ensure that a full-time rescue craft is provided on the Corrib and I believe that real progress is being made in this regard. This would be very good news for everyone,” said Mr Swan.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Three years on and ‘Changing Places’ facility on Salthill Promenade still not open



Mayor of Galway, Cllr Clodagh Higgins at the site of the Changing Places facility, for which she had ring-fenced money. Work on the project only began last February, despite initial predictions that the facility would be open in January last year.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The wait for accessible, specialised toilet facilities at Ladies Beach in Salthill goes on – three years after they were ‘prioritised’ by city councillors.

Galway City Council has confirmed to the Tribune this week that the ‘Changing Places’ facility at Ladies Beach is still not open.

Construction of the facility began almost a year ago, at the end of February 2022.

The local authority confirmed that some €135,600 has been spent on the unit, which is not yet open to the public.

“The initial stages of construction went well, with the facility now largely in place. There are a number of outstanding snags to be completed before the facility can open.

“Galway City Council is liaising with the contractor to complete out these snags, with a view to opening the facility as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said.

The local authority did not elaborate on what ‘snags’ were delaying the project.

But in January, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, suggested that staffing issues were to blame for the delay.

(Photo: Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins, at the site of the Changing Places facility, for which she had ring-fenced money).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the February 3 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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