Suneil Sharma takes on mothballed shopping mall
Northern Ireland-based developer Suneil Sharma is carrying out a €100m (£80m) redevelopment of the former Parkway Shopping Centre in Limerick after it was mothballed in the Republic's property crash.
The derelict site, on the main Dublin to Limerick road, is to be resurrected as Horizon Mall under proposals submitted to Limerick City and County Council by Mr Sharma, also a former independent member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
The developer, head of Varsity Developments and a campaigner for better race relations in Northern Ireland, wants to amend existing planning permission.
The project represents one of the largest-ever private sector investments in the Limerick area and the promoters say it will create 1,500 retail jobs and 500 construction jobs.
However, these figures must be treated with caution. It is always difficult to calculate net job creation when shopping malls are built because shops in city centres often close down as shoppers shift spending to the suburbs.
Horizon Mall's strategic location has already generated interest from international retail brands, many of which would otherwise not consider locating in Limerick, said Mr Sharma, who has had a connection with Limerick for over 15 years.
Marks & Spencer has agreed to take 100,000 sq ft in the new scheme, its largest store outside Dublin.
Mr Sharma said: "We are involved in very positive discussions with other major retail brands and will be making further announcements about this in the weeks and months ahead."
The development will comprise 29,000 sq metres of retail, 28,00 sq metres of food, 3,400 sq metres of leisure, 1,575 car parking spaces and a creche.