Exciting future for former Roscrea industrial site

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Exciting future for former Roscrea industrial site thumbnailBrian Whelan (left) and Tony Donlan (right) of Zinc Properties at the Antigen site in Roscrea. MT49727PJW

A CONSORTIUM of entrepreneurs have plans to transform a former pharmaceutical plant in the centre of Roscrea into a new complex that might include a restaurant and entertainment facilities, the Tribune can reveal.
The long closed down factory, once occupied by George Fasenfeld's Antigen company, has laid dormant in Roscrea for almost two decades and once contributed over €10-million to the local economy annually through wages.
Its closure was a devastating blow to Roscrea, but now it appears an exciting new future will unfold for the iconic site, which commands a central location in the town and one ideally suited for a myriad of potential businesses.
A team of three experienced and successful investors have plans to transform the old factory into a thriving hub and say they are open to proposals from local start-ups and organisations about what type of new businesses could soon be open in the town centre.
The three men who make up the company that bought the Roscrea site, Zinc Properties, have already taken over 10 similar sites dotted around the country and transformed those locations' fortunes.
Past projects they have undertaken include buying the complete Waterford Glass plant, which they completely refurbished and returned jobs to, and the old Burlington plant in Gillogue in Clare, which they turned around into a business success story.
Their company, whose core business is in harvesting scrap metal, with over 40 years experience in the industry, has created over 400 jobs in the last seven years nationally and has a proven track record of taking on challenging sites and effecting a positive turnaround.
Tony Donlan, one of the Zinc Properties trinity of investors, bought and refurbished the Thatched Cottage bar and restaurant in Ballycommon, which is now one of North Tipperary's most popular eateries and he told the Tribune he and his partners are eager to start work in Roscrea.
“We won't be demolishing this fine building - instead we want to be creative and refurbish it," Mr Donlan said, who proposes creating a restaurant in the iconic boiler-house at the front of the factory and incorporating some of the original industrial fittings into the restaurant's aesthetic to create something unique.
“This is my passion - doing up old places and keeping the features of the building, while also and turning them into something special," Mr Donlan said.
“It's a positive challenge and I see great potential here to create something very special, with the river running through the centre of the place there is great potential," he said.
The company also say they have long term plans for a six acre greenfield site located at the rear of the plant which they say has "great potential for jobs" and they are working with the local authority to examine the feasibility of creating a new road through the site that would connect Lourdes Road with the Killavilla Road.
This road was also proposed by the consultancy firm hired by the local authority to survey a new traffic management plan for Roscrea, who recommended a new road to relieve the overburdened traffic lights junction.
The men are also open to suggestions about potential businesses and are keen to explore the possibility of entertainment facilities - such as the long sought after cinema for Roscrea, or a similar enterprise and are cognisant of the social historical significance of the building, which is woven into the story of so many Roscrea families.
The team of investors have been working closely with Roscrea based Councillor Michael Smith, whom they say attracted them to Roscrea and piqued their interest in the former pharmaceutical plant.
“We wouldn't be in Roscrea at all if not for Michael Smith," Brian Whelan, who is another member of the investor team and public spokesperson for Zinc Properties, told the Tribune.
“He supported us from the very start on this project and was instrumental in us choosing this site over several others we were looking at," Mr Whelan said.
“I am delighted to have played a small part in the purchase of the former Antigen site in Roscrea. This place has many fond memories for many local families, as it was a great source of employment down through the years," Councillor. Michael Smith, told the Tribune.
“As a town centre site that covers over 13 acres, there is huge potential for a mixed development and possible even the creation of a new town park," he said.
“The new owners have very ambitious plans and I look forward to assisting this development with Tipperary County Council," Cllr. Smith said.


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