Great new out­lets join es­tab­lished favourites

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - AROUND KINSALE ROAD - Kevin O’Neill

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.

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