Great new outlets join established favourites
Now 10 years on from the completion of the flyover, the Kinsale Road Commercial Park is booming.
While many parts of the city and county struggled from the mid to late 2000s until quite recently, businesses in the area were reaping the rewards of forward-thinking.
In fact, there are still many areas in the city that are struggling as a result of a challenging retail environment: changing consumer tastes, the advent of online shopping and a preference for suburban shopping centres over city shopping options are playing an important role in modern retail trends.
But, while Cork city’s main streets may be looking longingly at the likes of Mahon Point or Wilton Shopping Centre and their jam-packed car parks, savvy businesses at the Kinsale Road Commercial Park have continued to enjoy success.
In fact, recent years have seen more and more of an interest in an area which boasts an array of diverse businesses: everything from gyms and toy shops to cafés and homeware. The transformation of the area from a once literal dump into a thriving commercial hub has been heralded by many in the area, with ample retail and commercial space now being snapped up at a sharp pace.
It is a very simple matter of location, location, location: just minutes from the city centre and Cork Airport, it is easily accessible from the south, east and west of the county. The adjacent Black Ash park and ride, too, gives further options for shoppers and business personnel alike.
Local councillor Mick Finn hailed the continued success of the area.
As far as he is concerned, it is key to the resurgent Cork economy.
“Kinsale Road is always a hive of activity with some of the most iconic local, national and international brands operating from a network of commercial estates,” the Independent councillor said.
“This necklace of small, medium and large businesses is hugely important to the city both in terms of service provision but also for local employment.
“Thousands of people work in the Kinsale Road area, across all businesses from tea to T-bone steaks!”
Mr Finn urged the people of Cork to keep supporting the facility to boost the wider area.
He said: “Continued support of the myriad serviceand product-led operations is crucial for the continued success of the Cork economy. “New outlets are always welcome alongside to the long-established heavy hitters.
“I look forward to some of the currently vacant site being opened up and used better. I also think the park and ride facility located in the midst of the bustling activity should be utilised better for the area.”
Other political representatives have hailed the transformative success of the facility, too.
Former lord mayor Terry Shannon has previously spoken out about the importance of opening the flyover which, he said, made journeys from one side of the city to the other an ease.
“It used to be a permanent tailback, it was a nightmare. We had looked for the flyovers for years.”
The business community is reaping the rewards of this work, Mr Shannon said, noting the transformation in the Kinsale Road commercial park and the surrounding areas in the last number of years.
He said: “It is absolutely thriving. It made it so much easier to get to the Kinsale Road. To get out to the area beforehand was a bit of a trek. For people in Mahon, Donnybrook, Wilton, or Bishopstown, it has turned this journey into one that just takes minutes.”
Unsurprisingly, there is a degree of envy in other parts of the city as a result.
On the north side, Blackpool-based councillor Kenneth O’Flynn has lamented the contrasting fortunes of the likes of the Kilbarry retail park.
Ambitious visions for the former Sunbeam site near Blackpool, tabled about a decade ago, also never came to fruition.
Instead, he said, traffic issues have stunted the growth of what should be an- other success for Cork city.
“It was always the plan,” he said.
“In fact, it was even granted planning and we hoped to see a similar large retail offering brought to the area. It is something that we still want to see and that would really boost the entire area.”
The Fianna Fáil representative said that he has no doubts that a similar offering on the northside of the city would be hugely successful. “A well-served offering would catch many of those in the north Cork and Kerry areas. These consumers currently bypass the northside of the city and head straight to the Kinsale Road — that’s how successful it is,” he said.
“If something similar could be developed at our end of the city, it would make a tremendous difference.”
Mr O’Flynn said that he is very hopeful that the coming years may see the plans revisited.
“If we could wave a wand and redevelop the northern ring road and add a similar retail space, it would be a great boost.
“We have been forgotten about for long enough — but you can see what can be done when the right development is delivered.”
Cllr Mick Finn says area around Kinsale Road has everything from tea to t-bone steaks.