The controversial Ard Dealgan apartment complex is to be fully refurbished and will reopen again next year as Halliday Mills, with 68 units of social housing being made available to those on Louth County Council’s housing list.
The building – which has been desolate, derelict and decaying since it was first closed in 2009 after a Fire Closure Notice was served – has been purchased by Celtic Social Housing Development and leased to Túath Housing for a 20-year period.
The housing body will work closely with Louth County Council to fill the 68-units with those waiting on the 4,400 long social housing waiting list. The new development will comprise of 10 one-bed, 46 two-bed and seven three-bed apartments, as well as three two-bed and two four-bed duplexes.
Among those present at the Ard Dealgan site on Monday for the official press event to mark the contract signing with Deputies Declan Breathnach and Peter Fitzpatrick and county councillors Anne Campbell, Maeve Yore, Ruairi O’Murchu, Conor Keelan and Dundalk Municipal District chairperson John McGahon as well as representatives from Tuath and the building’s new Chinese owners.
It is expected that Halliday Mills, named after businessman Arthur Halliday who employed more than 1,000 people in his shoe factory located on the site at the height of it’s success in the 1960s, will be ready for the occupancy by mid-2019. Units will be allocated via the council’s Choice Based Letting online portal.
Ard Dealgan - A Timeline
Remind yourself of the story of the controversial Ard Dealgan complex in Dundalk with our at-a-glance timeline.
Speaking on Tuesday, developers tasked with refurbishing the Ard Dealgan building confirmed that the building would not be knocked down – but redeveloped. “I suppose the saviour of the building is that its concrete,” Mark McKenna of OCFPM said. “Concrete is the best fire retardant.”
All electrical, mechanical and piping components are to be ripped out and reinstalled in what the builders call “a 100% replacement.” They also said both elevators in the building are to be replaced. The estimated total cost of the development, aimed at families, is €5.8 million.
When asked whether the initial fire safety issues that led to the first tenants having to leave their homes would hamper the work, McKenna confirmed it wasn’t an issue and everything would be stripped back to the basics and started again.
“This will be a place people want to live,” Sean O’Connor, the Túath Housing chief executive said. “We are delighted to once again partner with Louth County Council on this social housing project, which was funded through CALF. Túath currently manages 175 homes in Louth and we have a development pipeline for approximately 350 homes in the county by the end of 2019.
“We look forward to bringing this development back to life, to welcoming the new tenants next year, and to creating a new chapter in the history of this site,” he added.
It has also been confirmed that Túath will open a North East office in Dundalk, employing five people. This, Sean O’Connor said, will help ensure a local presence for tenants once the building has been reopened.
“Ard Dealgan has not only been an eyesore for many years, its health and safety issues meant that a building which had the potential to house more than 60 families lay idle,” Louth County Council Director of Services Joe McGuinness said.
“We are absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to bring this development back into use and we thank Celtic Social Housing Development Co Ltd for offering it for social housing. The complex will be refurbished to a high standard and the developer has already started health and safety compliance measures.
“The 68 units will provide safe and comfortable accommodation for a range of individuals and families in Louth when they come on stream next year.
The local authority consider such deals, as the one struck with the complex’s new owners, a way to combat the number of people waiting for social housing to be made available. Chief Executive Joan Martin remarked, “We very much welcome Celtic Social Housing Development Co Ltd’s approach regarding providing Ard Dealgan for social housing purposes and we are interested in hearing from other developers regarding similar arrangements.”
Ard Dealgan, which was built by Tom McFeely’s Coalport Building Company, has been vacant since a 2009 inspection which found that the manner of construction of the apartments was poor, with a general non-compliance of all regulatory matters.
Louth County Council has spent more than €25,000 since then in physically securing the site, which has been the subject of vandalism, theft, fire and general anti-social behaviour. The Council had begun a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process when the site was sold out of receivership to Celtic Social Housing Development Co Ltd, which in turn approached the council with an offer to refurbish the building for social housing.