We can’t let the South Mall go south!!

by

South Mall, Cork

When I was in college in Cork in the early ‘80’s I used love to walk down South Mall and take in the atmosphere of this bustling busy business street and I vowed I’d someday work there – that is of course, after I travelled and conquered the world!!!

I always knew that Cork would be my home and after a long and winding road now it is. I can’t believe that I am lucky enough to not only work on the South Mall, but that I own a business on this historic business precinct.

We have an equally good location in Dublin on Fitzwilliam Street and even though we continue to grow in Dublin, Cork will always be my base and the South Mall will always be where I am drawn to work – and often play thanks to great places like Electric, right across the road from us!

I know though at the moment I am seeing the Mall with tinted glasses.

Because it’s home to me the glare of all the “To Let” and “For Sale” signs fade into the façades of the buildings. But what must people think when they look at the South Mall now, when viewing the area as a location to set up a business?

With all the vacant signs, it’s probably the last place people new to the city would consider setting up a business. I bet sometimes some people think all that is missing is the tumble-weed – although there are weeds growing off many of the empty buildings!!!

Something has to be done.

Reports and studies are great but are they getting us anywhere? Is anyone taking the advice, recommendations on board? Where are the incentives to encourage people to move into the South Mall? Are the Estate Agents doing their jobs properly? Is there something more the business community could be doing? Is there more that the landlords should be doing to make their properties more attractive to businesses?

Electric, South Mall

It just breaks my heart sometimes when I see another business leave, just as strongly as it leaps for joy when I see a business opening. Thankfully there have been a few in the last six months.

Perhaps the business community on the South Mall should join together?

Now I know we have an excellent Chamber of Commerce and there is the Cork Business Association – but should we mount an organic PR campaign for the South Mall; where businesses pro-actively talk up this great business precinct and support the businesses on the Mall.

This could not only help keep businesses on our main business centre but also encourage more businesses to make the South Mall their home. We could make sure new businesses on the Mall are welcomed by neighbours, through social media, through one to one well wishes and the ultimate support, by doing the best to do business with neighbouring businesses.

The South Mall could once again become a real thriving business community, supporting each other and encouraging new neighbours.

So who will start the ball rolling………

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is a Partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

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13 Responses to “We can’t let the South Mall go south!!”

  1. Michele O'BriainM Says:

    Deirdre,

    I think you would be ideal to start the ball rolling … it was your idea after all and as you’re a great communicator you are probably in a perfect position to drive the project forward.

    I was recently involved with a local business network in a small village in Dublin where we produced a map which would be given out to visitors in a local hotel and those that were taking tours in the vicinity to encourage them to spend money in the local area. More than two thirds of the local businesses signed up to the project with each business giving a nominal sum to cover the design and printing cost of the map. The map lists all the contact details for each of the businesses featured which are broken down in to categories such as food and drink, hair and beauty, gifts, financial services etc.

    The tour company and the hotel will be providing their customers with a service – a free map showing them exactly where they are plus details of all the local area has to offer from a service point of view and the hotel and tour company will be driving potential customers to the local businesses – a WIN WIN scenario for all concerned!

    I also used a local designer and printer for the job so the contribution paid by the local businesses also stayed in the area. Each local business now has the details of the other businesses at their fingertips so they know if they are looking for an insurance quote, a solicitor, a facial or a haircut they can access these services locally.

    In your case you might be able to help the other businesses in the South Mall with their marketing needs in the long run and you may find that there are businesses beside you that you didn’t know of that you could also use helping to keep the cash spent locally as well as sharing your wealth of experience and contacts – local networking at it’s best!

    Best of luck with the first roll of the ball in setting up this project!

  2. Deirdre Waldron Says:

    Thanks Michele, really appreciate you taking the time to reply. The response has been great. Lots of business people on the South Mall feeling the same way x

  3. StudioForty9 (@sf9) Says:

    Having spent nearly a year searching for a new office in Cork City, I can say that what’s available on the South Mall (and nearby) is very disappointing.

    Yes there is the odd good building, but in many cases the buildings are effectively poorly converted houses unsuitable for business, what estate agents now refer to as ‘old stock’.

    In other cases, the office blocks are very dated with high service-charges and the notoriously unpredictable high rates.

    It’s a pity that so much focus was put on the Docklands ten years ago when entire areas of the city (Grand Parade, South Mall, Quays, Parnell Place etc etc) are decrepit and falling asunder.

    I’m not sure what can be done – but I think some sort of city council level incentive for landlords to invest in decent renovations would be required. No rates for a certain period of time where a good level of renovation has been achieved for example.

    As you say Dee, South Mall should be a bustling exciting street with plenty of quality accommodation for business – it’s critical for the lifeblood of the city centre that efforts are made to improve it.

    I think your ‘organic’ idea would be a great start – but some heavier investment or encouragement will be required sooner rather than later.

  4. Dennis O'Connell Says:

    Deirdre,

    Lots of questions and excellent Points. I’m sure the Business community, estate agents, landlords, etc are all doing their utmost to maintain the Mall; but what about the elected politicians? What are they doing for the Peoples Republic of Cork?

    Let’s hope for better days.

  5. Ken Says:

    The city is in decline. Not just the South Mall. Its impossible to do business in the City. Over charging for parking and traffic wardens have driven people out. Free parking shopping centers and commercial parks are where people with large staff numbers are going.

    It is very simple, its is easier to run your business if you can attract staff and customers to a user friendly area. Being able to park your car and a short walk to your place of work without fear of fines is attractive to staff and customers.

    The on going road works through out the city for the last few months creating an initial problem for road users was bad enough. However the results of the new roads and bicycle lanes, bus lanes,over sized footpaths and all the other crazy new road changes has made things even worse. aesthetically pleasing but impractical works are a waste of City finances. The city needs real planning. Forward thinking long term. Public transport solutions not tinkering around the fringes with bicycle and bus lanes, over sized footpaths and short term thinking.

    These changes to our roads would be most welcome if we had a fantastic public transport system. The truth is we do not. But we have put in place a city road network that is car and commercial traffic unfriendly. So if you work on the South Mall or any other City Street your car is a costly liability that is being pushed out to the more user friendly areas outside of the City. Customers and business are voting with their feet and moving to more user friendly places to do business. The planners are way behind the curve on what our city needs are.

    Would this be because they do not have to pay for parking themselves or do they?? Nice shiny new offices and parking facilities near City Hall!!

    First step should be user friendly cost efficient public transport. Then the pedestrian city that we are currently building comes next. The City planners have put the Cart before the Horse, thus pushing customers and business users out of the city.

    We currently have a City that requires the car to be primary as a means to get into it. However customers and business staff and owners are penalized for bringing their cars in to the City. On top of that our planners are planning the car out of the City without putting alternatives in place and people have responded by moving to where they can do business. No mystery really just people being people and our City planners being short sighted.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Great post Ken and some really interesting points. We are working on a Cork Branding Marketing Project with and have done a lot of research – people love the city buzz despite the obvious issues about parking and roads and empty units. Not once did anyone say to us in our research that ‘they loved shopping in Mahon’ or ‘loved working in Little Island’. In my view while they might be convenient they are soulless places and your recommendations along with progressive thinking and investment would restore our fine city centre to is former glory (or even better!). Thanks again for the great post.

  6. Michael Creedon Says:

    There is a scheme in the pipeline called Living Cities Initiative, it was announced at last years budget but hasn’t been enacted yet, it basically will give tax relief to regeneration work done on both Commercial and residential properties built before 1915 in the 5 main Cities in Ireland, the only issue I see here is that quite a lot of Cork City Centre was burned after this date, not sure why they picked 1915, they could have easily said 1930. So what needs to happen here is that politicians be lobbied on the basis of getting this enacted and getting the date changed slightly.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Great information Michael – that scheme will be interesting. I must look it up and learn more about it.

    • judyosborne Says:

      An Taisce were able to negotiate some changes to the dates for the Living Cities Initiative in Limerick. The Department seemed interested to ensure the scheme was a success so they would probably also be open to a well presented proposal in Cork too.

  7. Alan clayton Says:

    Sorry to be so obvious Deirdre but you and Fuzion look the most likely at least to “light blue touch paper” then stand back.
    South Mall needs less car n roads – more people n space. And a damn fine co-working location bang in the middle

    A

  8. Kevin Burke Says:

    Hi Deirdre,
    Was home for the weekend and it struck me how vibrant that some previously neglected parts of the city such as MacCurtain St (active trader group there), Oliver Plunkett St, Perry St, the bottom end of Academy St/French Church St and the Coal Quay looked. I think a diversity of uses in some of the buildings (particularly ground floor) would help to encourage more people to linger there. The Electric bar on a sunny day helps but would be a good to have some of that replicated elsewhere on the street. The pedestrian environment in the vicinity of your office – particularly the junction with Parliament Bridge is particularly poor and v difficult to cross the street. Remember that people spend money and not cars passing through!
    Kevin

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