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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 18 September, 2019
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Traders in limbo as they wait for demolition of shopping centre car park in Douglas

The fire at the Douglas Village Shopping Centre destroyed vehicles and damaged the car park beyond repair.

The aftermath of the 31 August fire.
The aftermath of the 31 August fire.
Image: Twitter/Cork City Fire

THE DEMOLITION IS set to take place of the multi-story car park that was gutted by fire at the Douglas Village Shopping Centre in Cork city.

Final preparations are being made for the demolition works, the result of which will determine the future operation of the centre.

The 31 August blaze in the multi-storey car park destroyed scores of vehicles but smoke from the fire and water from the firefighting operating also damaged stores within the centre.

Traders had been unable to gain access to their premises in the week after the fire but have since been allowed into the centre to assess the damage.

The centre remains closed however and tenants have been attempting to relocate their businesses elsewhere.

A local business owner offered to relocate the affected post office to a temporary site in their car park but this was deemed unsuitable by An Post because of the requirement to ensure cash is secure.

Other traders have secured alternative premises but some are holding out to see what the future of the centre will be after the demolition of the car park.

“The traders, or at least some of them, were escorted into their premises where they could look at their stock and see what the damage was and what could be done,” local councillor Deirdre Forde told TheJournal.ie.

“I’m sure that they’re more than anxious to see if anything can be salvaged. But in relation to the demolition, we have no firm details yet.”

Experts are expected to make a judgement as to whether the centre can open again once the car park is successfully demolished.

“I don’t think even the owners or the consultants can say yet, until they see how the demolition goes but I mean we’d all be hoping that something can be done. Because otherwise, it could be a long-term loss to Douglas village,” Forde says.

She adds that if traders can’t return to their premises it clearly presents a bigger issue.

Everybody’s waiting to see if a definitive timeline will come out. And then if it’s long-term we’ll just have to look for other vacant properties in the area. But there aren’t that many unfortunately.

In the interim, councillors are attempting to alleviate some of the lost business as a result of the fire by allowing one-hour free on-street parking in Douglas during weekdays.

Cork City Council advertised the initiative in a tweet yesterday saying that Douglas was “open for business”. Other suggestions have been to use the outdoor space that is available to allow the traders operate a festive market in the run up to Christmas.

Undamaged cars were removed from the multi-storey car park by crane as they could not be driven out for safety reasons. The cars damaged in the blaze remain at the scene but RTÉ reported earlier this week that discussions were underway to remove the Opel Zafira car which it initially caught fire for further examination.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Opel Ireland said it has been in contact with gardaí in relation to the matter.

“We are in contact with the gardaí and have offered them our assistance. We understand from the gardaí that the investigation is still ongoing. Until we know more, we cannot comment at this early stage,” the spokesperson said.

“It is a very upsetting time for all involved. As soon as we know more, we will provide updates. Any concerned customers we would ask to please contact our Customer Assistance Centre on 01 533 9818.”

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Rónán Duffy

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