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Ballymena Tower Centre shopping mall goes on the market for £6m

By Margaret Canning

Ballymena's Tower shopping centre has gone on the market for £6m, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The mall, which was the first to open in the town, formerly belonged to boxing promoter and businessman Barney Eastwood.

But its popularity was eclipsed when Fairhill Shopping Centre opened in 1991.

Some of Mr Eastwood's property portfolio, including the Tower Centre, had been financed by failed Irish lender Anglo Irish Bank, later known as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

IBRC then sold some of its loans to US investment fund Lone Star in 2014 - which is understood to be the party which has put the Tower Centre on the market.

Its retail line-up includes Dunnes, Primark, B&M Bargains, O2 and Burger King.

Commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton, which has been appointed to sell the centre, refused to comment on the process.

Retail expert Donald McFetridge believes recent bad news about employment in the town - with JTI Gallaher's to close next year and Michelin a year later with a total loss of jobs of around 1,700 - could cast a shadow over the sale. "Until quite recently, Ballymena has always enjoyed a formidable reputation as a great shopping town and the fact that there are two shopping centres situated there bolsters this view," he said. "Unfortunately, with the impending demise of JTI and Michelin, retailing in Ballymena will suffer as both a direct, and indirect, consequence. 

"Shoppers will have less money to spend when employment levels drop quite dramatically over the next 12 months.

"It therefore comes as no great surprise to hear that The Tower Centre is up for sale."

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