A raft of recent investments and increased visitor numbers are helping to breathe new life into the heart of Derry, the City Centre Manager has said.
The hospitality sector, in particular, has seen a number of bars and restaurants opening or being redeveloped over recent months in and around the city centre.
City Centre Manager Jim Roddy, however, added a note of caution that there are still many traders locally struggling to stay afloat and much work to be done in terms of developing infrastructure, and above all, in job creation.
Mr Roddy said: “There are certainly signs that money is being spent in the city. There is no great sign that there has been any massive boost to employment but one thing there surely is a lot more people coming to the city from outside. Hotel occupancy has been staying high and there have been record numbers over Hallowe’en recently. That is new, disposable income that is coming into the city.”
Mr Roddy said that decades ago Derry’s traders relied almost entirely on attracting local customers.
“Now we are getting lots of people coming and visiting the city and going about spending money,” he added. “The more we get of that extra disposable income, it will allow businesses to survive and in some cases expand.”
Mr Roddy said local investors and business people from the Derry, Donegal and Limavady areas, among others, were to be commended for investing locally.
In a note of caution, however, he said that there were still many retailers who were struggling: “I wouldn’t be under any illusion for how difficult it is for some retailers. There’s no doubt there are some retailers finding it very, very difficult but all you can gauge it on is by buildings reopening, shops relocating or re-investing in their workers, but that doesn’t take away from those finding it very difficult.
“There is still a lot of work to be done.”
The list of recent developments and redevelopments in and around the city centre include the former Clarendon Bar, former Beckett’s Bar, the Legenderry Warehouse Bistro planned for beside the Guildhall.
Mr Roddy also pointed to Spaghetti Junction, the Italian restaurant on William Street, Granny Annie’s, Silver Street and The Quays, while Yellow Moonhas movedout on to Shipquay Street, resulting in a high street presence for the popular clothing store.