Johnston Court shopping centre is to become The Canopy as part of €1 million rebrand and makeover aimed at breathing new life into Sligo town centre.
The move comes after Tobernalt Holdings, owned by members of the Monahan family from Sligo, were granted permission to proceed with the major rejuvenation plans by Sligo County Council.
The retail hub on O’Connell Street has been completely reimagined with a new focus on social sustainability and a targeted strategy to support local food producers and artisanal creators with set-up costs and cheaper rents.
Under works due to begin next month, the building’s façade will be redesigned while the interior will be transformed from a walk-through shopping mall into a destination for locals and visitors alike.
The interior of The Canopy will be ‘greened’ with dramatic planting and full-size trees along the centre’s central arcade. This is complementary to the planned transformation of the vacant unit at 6 O’Connell Street into a casual dining area which will be leased to food producers.
The revamped retail space will retain all 28 current units but will add an extra 10-12 kiosks to The Canopy which the owners hope will be operated by local vendors, artists and artisan makers.
Tobernalt Holdings Ltd’s plans come amid a backdrop of rising commercial rents and an ongoing debate about the future of town centres and main streets.
That’s why the owners are aiming to attract businesses to The Canopy with the unique offer of short-term flexible letting arrangements, and providing a bespoke kiosk. The aim of the new kiosks is to help reduce some of the initial set up costs for prospective tenants, retailers availing of these can focus on their business rather than worrying about initial fit out costs.
As part of its reinvention, the owners have recently let space to a new Bubble Tea Café and an enhanced Jack Jones outlet. North West-based McConville Orthodontics has also committed to opening a state-of-the-art 4,500sq ft clinic over two floors in the shopping centre. Work on that project will begin in April ahead of an August opening.
Planning permission for The Canopy works was recently granted by Sligo County Council. The budget for the refurbishment, which begins in March and is scheduled to end in June, is €1million.
With 140 people currently employed at the centre, it is hoped that the development of 6 O’Connell Street and the establishment of new kiosks could create up to 15 new jobs in the town.
Commenting on the project, a spokesman for Tobernalt Holdings Ltd said: “The Canopy is more than just a redevelopment of the Johnston Court space, it’s part of a bigger phase of rejuvenation for one of Sligo’s oldest districts.
“By providing access to a busy retail space, along with short-term flexible letting arrangements and facilities to help with start-up costs, we aim to assist small businesses in Sligo for the benefit of the wider business ecosystem.
“Sligo is responding to the ongoing revolution in how we conceive and engage with public spaces. The greening of The Canopy builds on the wonderful work already done by Sligo County Council in remaking the image of the town through the hanging of plant boxes outside the town’s retail spaces and the recently announced redevelopment of Stephen Street car park into the communal green space Queen Maeve Square. We are delighted to be part of that transformation and look forward to seeing the works advance over the coming months.”