Loughrea businessman Paddy Sweeney to unveil Roscommon Retail Park in July A leading businessman in Roscommon town casually remarked to this journalist last November: ‘I presume your front page photograph next week will be that crane at Circular Road – did we ever think we’d see the day when we’d see a sight like that here?’ As it happens the crane didn’t make the People’s front page, but it certainly has made an impression on thousands of people since its arrival, standing proudly as a landmark of sorts and a symbol of the remarkable commercial expansion of the county town. Last week I met one of the men responsible for its presence, Loughrea-based businessman Paddy Sweeney. He breezes into the Abbey Hotel with the friendly demeanour of a man who has few worries, although given that his business interests stretch across at least half the country one would have thought that his working day involves dilemmas and problems and deadlines and headaches. Perhaps it does, and perhaps he thrives on ‘the buzz’! Paddy Sweeney certainly appears to take his hectic schedule in his stride, managing to find time for family and his sporting passions. Enthusiastic about his Roscommon ‘interests’, he reveals that the project he and business partner Tom Considine are spearheading at Circular Road – with the help of that crane and a team of about fifty people – is on course to open in July of 2008. The 90,000 sq. ft. Roscommon Retail Park will incorporate five retail units of approximately 2,000 sq. ft. apiece; four retail units of approx. 3,000 sq. ft. apiece and five office suites of approx. 1,500 sq. ft. each. The Roscommon People can report that the anchor tenant in the massive new retail area will be 4Home DIY Superstores, which (including a Garden Centre) will be based in an area of about 35,000 sq. ft. The new Park will provide about 200 carparking spaces in Roscommon’s first basement carpark – spaces which will be open to the general public. The development is located in the heart of Roscommon’s commercial heartland, in close proximity to Supervalu, Tesco, Dunnes and other major outlets. News that the development would incorporate a basement carpark was widely welcomed when it became public knowledge. ‘We think the basement and multi-storey carpark will be a huge boost to the town, it will free up surface carparking,’ Paddy Sweeney said. He confirmed that the carpark will be open to the general public. It is understood that the carpark will be free of charge for the first hour or two of use and that the owners will be receptive to negotiating arrangements with local businesses with parking requirements. Asked to describe the Retail Park, Paddy Sweeney said that it will incorporate retail units ‘of the highest standards’ and featuring ‘contemporary design.’ Stephen O’Rourke is main contractor and local contractors are also involved. What is his vision of the Park? ‘I think it will be a major addition to the centre of the town and will further consolidate Roscommon town centre as a shopping destination. It will act as an anchor, linking that area between Supervalu, Tesco and Dunnes.’ The Loughrea man first set his entrepreneurial sights on Roscommon town a few years ago, developing Roscommon West Business Park, a 20,000 sq. ft. retail complex which, he reports, is now ‘fully let.’ What attracted him to Roscommon and how does he see its short-term future – against a background of uncertainty in the construction industry and the economy generally? ‘Well I think county towns like Roscommon can survive (the downturn) and consolidate. I think Roscommon, by consolidating its retail (services) in the centre of town can compete with Athlone and other such centres. There are a lot of third generation shops in Roscommon trading successfully, there’s a very good market for retail here. ‘Yes, there’s some doom and gloom about but we think there’s strong demand for having shops, etc. in the one area. We think this Retail Park will be a huge addition to Roscommon and the area in general. It will enhance the shopping options, we will also be creating sixty to seventy jobs. I think if you give people the comforts they want and provide the carparking and the quality of building, there’s grounds for having faith in Roscommon town.’ The downturn doesn’t appear to have remotely dented his belief in the Retail Park. He stresses that the retail units will be to the very highest specification…they will be ‘very attractive’ and as such keen interest is anticipated. They will be available for sale, lease, or lease with option to purchase. Before we finish the interview Paddy says he would like to thank the Roscommon public for their patience and co-operation while work on the project has been ongoing. He also acknowledges the co-operation of Roscommon County Council. He’s in Roscommon town to make a site visit, while also confirming joint sponsorship of the upcoming Roscommon Rose of Tralee event. At he poses for a photograph on the site of Roscommon Retail Park, behind him the crane that dominates the Roscommon skyline stands proud, evidence that the sky may indeed be the limit for Paddy Sweeney – and for Roscommon town.