Ballyhackamore crossroads is identifiable by the huge cluster of estate agents. But for how much longer?
A chip shop, the bakery, Gary Hall’s newsagents, the fruit and veg shop along with Jason Shankey’s male grooming parlour (complete with webcam!) are all part of a block of seven shops that have been put on the market.
Five of the seven leases are up in 2007 making it an ideal time to sell.
Only one snag: the price has escalated beyond the initial asking price of £1.4 million, meaning that it may already be out of the reach of a commercial management company (certainly beyond the pockets of the current tenants) and is likely to fall into the hands of a property developer.
Not brilliant news for the tenants who may not be able to renew their leases, and the chippie that's just invested in a new counter.
And not good news for the local residents who may find fewer independent shops in the area, and be even more reliant on the Tesco Metro and M&S - or a longer walk across to the Belmont Road shops. (I posted about the Co-Op disappearing earlier this year.)
Oh, and the owner. No one has yet reported the exact makeup of the consortium. But retiring Archbishop of Armagh Robin Eames is heavily trailed as a part owner. While telling the basic property and human interest story, the BBC’s online reporting seems a lot more interested in Archbishop Eames’ ownership than it needs to be. Maybe it'll become a local Da Vinci Code-like Anglican plot!
And it is reported that “protesters blocked the Newtownards Road” when “about 60 people” took to the street in East Belfast sometime this afternoon.
I missed this brief excitement by being over in the busy-but-not-as-awful-as-I-expected Sprucefield Classic (the original M&S site) car park and associated shops in Lisburn. So I’ve linked across to the BBC and Belfast Telegraph pictures.