MacDonagh Junction is aiming to open its new cinema next year and still has plans to develop another space the size of Dunnes stores, centre manager Donie Butler announced as the shopping centre marked its fifth birthday on Thursday afternoon.
A champagne reception in the centre’s Workhouse Square marked the occasion, as store managers and other centre representatives gathered to enjoy a birthday cake and light refreshments.
“We opened with nine stores on November 8, 2007, and a long way down the track – five years later – we are bringing just over 3 million people through the centre annually to shop,” Mr Butler said on the afternoon.
And this, he noted, was a transformation “of what was a formerly derelict site that had been lying idle for about 10 years.”
As it happened, the shopping centre opened just before the recession hit, and if it had waited much longer then it might not ever have opened its doors at all.
“Had we not opened in November of that year,” Mr Butler said, “we might have never opened, because of the way that the economy plummeted.”
He attributed the centre’s success to the ambiance of the space and to the relationship between the management and those who occupy the shopping spaces. “We work with the tenants, for starters. It is a partnership more than a landlord-tenant situation. We are all in it together,” he said. “What’s good for one of us is good for all of us.”
The immediate future will see the arrival of Santa on December 1, and the centre is also looking ahead to its next addition – a six-screen cinema, which has received planning permission from Kilkenny Borough Council and is awaiting a verdict from An Bord Pleanála.
The hope, Mr Butler said, is that it will be open for Easter or summertime of 2013.
Further down the road, the centre’s plans include the development of its Building 5, which is the same size as the Dunnes in the centre. That next phase will be developed, Mr Butler said, “as soon as the economy turns, when we get four quarters of retail growth.”