One of the town’s most striking buildings is set to enjoy a new lease of life after lying idle for more than two years.
The former House of Brindle will reopen as a retail hub which will employ at least 10 staff when it opens in April.
Local entrepreneur Jenny Mulholland, along with her brother, acquired the prominent Windsor Avenue premises last month and building work is already underway to transform its vast expanse into New Haven – a café and restaurant, deli, ice cream parlour, book room and family area.
The former Baptist church was converted into The House of Brindle department store around 30 years ago but was put up for sale in April 2012 after David Calvert, who ran the business, retired.
Jenny, a former manager for Marks and Spencer, and who was supported by Craigavon Council in developing her plans and securing the site, said: “Lurgan’s town centre is continuing to develop and there’s plenty of potential for growth against a fast-growing population who have travelled more and who are keen to experience more places to eat, drink and shop in. I had fantastic business support and advice from council and from the Business Advice Centre.”
Crucially, Jenny received financial help from the council in the form of a reduction in rates. She said: “My rates payment was going to be a substantial outgoing, but because the building was empty when I took it over, I’m eligible for a 50% rates reduction, which will help enormously in the first year.”
For the last two years, Jenny passed the building every day. Little did she know she was the one with the vision to create new opportunities and unlock its potential once more. Jenny, who got the keys to New Haven just two days before Christmas and who has been based in the town for past 16 years, said the timing was right to make the move to open a new business.
She said: “I wanted a large building with growth potential, and, at 6,000 square feet, this certainly fits the bill. On the ground floor I’m planning a café and a space for local artists to exhibit their work. We’ll also have a shop selling our homemade goodies and produce from local suppliers, as well as a bookshop which will have a charity association.
“I also plan to use upstairs as a community space, and that is something we’ll be developing over the first year of business. I hope we can play some part in bringing families and the community together.”
For more information on the business support provided by Craigavon Council, contact Lyn McNeill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 3831 3617.