NAMA is making significant strides towards reviving a more viable version of the proposed Newgate shopping complex in Waterford city centre.
In a letter to Waterford TD John Deasy (dated May 8), the agency’s chairman Frank Daly confirmed that Bannon Property Consultants “have been engaged by the borrower to examine the most commercially feasible options for the development of this site.
“As part of its work, Bannon is engaging with prospective anchor tenants and established commercial/retail developers with a view to ascertaining the level of interest in carrying out a development of the site, either independently or on a joint venture basis with NAMA,” he said.
Mr Daly added that “NAMA is funding the work by Bannon and we have also funded other significant expenditures relating to this site to date.”
The local Fine Gael deputy had raised the matter with Mr Daly at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last September, and recently made a follow-up enquiry.
Previously, at the PAC, Mr Deasy had stressed the importance of securing substantial investment for the city centre given that the Waterford economy had been “devastated”, particularly the retail sector, over the past five years.
He noted that the 3-acre Michael Street site (a block also taking in New Street, Alexander St and Stephen St) had been identified in the then recently-published Waterford local authority merger implementation committee report, which included the project among its recommended high-level interventions.
At that time Mr Daly signalled that a fresh planning application would be necessary as the previous proposal — permission for which expired late last year — wasn’t commercially viable in the current economic climate; suggesting “a more simplified mix” would suffice.
Now, outlining the most up-to-date position, he wrote: “Based on the feedback from this process and presuming commercial viability, it is intended to finalise and submit a new planning application for the site. Work is significantly advanced in terms of design and layout of the new development and there has been significant and positive engagement with the planning authority.”
The chairman also pointed out that NAMA has part-funded, along with Waterford City Council, a marketing brochure — in the process of being finalised — which is aimed at promoting Waterford City as a retail investment opportunity. “The document,” he said, “highlights, inter alia, the opportunity at Newgate and is targeted at both retailers and developers.”