£10m price tag on Albert Basin

March 2, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

Newry and Mourne District Council has abandoned its initial plans to develop the valuable Albert Basin site and instead has placed it on the market for public sale.

The Council confirmed that city estate agent O’Reilly Property Services has been appointed to oversee the sale of the 15-acre city centre site.

Patrick O’Reilly of O’Reilly Property Services said he anticipates strong interest in the sale, despite the current slump in the property market.  Mr O’Reilly added that already a number of potential buyers had registered their interest.

“This is a prime site, surrounded on three sides by water and with a fantastic aspect.  It has massive potential,” he said.

The sale of Albert Basin is expected to fetch in the region of £10 million for the Council and it’s believed the money will be used to fund the proposed new Leisure Centre at Rooney’s Meadow.

Chief Executive of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, Orla Jackson, said the organisation would like to see the site developed for mixed-use ‘with a signature project, retail, a hotel and public realm’.

“The Albert Basin is a key strategic site and a prime location so both the public and the business community would hope there are a number of developers keen to regenerate it,” she said.

Plans scrapped

In April 2007 Newry and Mourne District Council launched a high-profile competition for the £200m redevelopment of the site, to which up to nine competitors submitted regeneration proposals.  However, 14 months later it emerged that the contract tendering process was flawed and council officials were forced to scrap the competition.  This decision left many competing developers infuriated having incurred significant costs.

Subsequent plans for the resubmission of proposals never materialised.