Tenders withdrawn when coronavirus struck

The former Pretty Polly and Sara Lee factory

A SECTION of the former Pretty Polly and Sara Lee site in Killarney is to be allocated for the development of new houses, it has emerged.

Kerry County Council had invited expressions of interest from the public on how best to develop the 7.4-acre site and of the six responses received, two led to tenders being submitted in February 2020.

Both submission have now been withdrawn, however, as a direct consequence of the coronavirus crisis with those involved informing the local authority that they are no longer in a position to proceed.

“Unfortunately, the engagement with the two parties coincided with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and they are not in a position to proceed at this time due to the uncertainty,” Killarney Municipal District Manager, Angela McAllen, informed local councillors this Wednesday.

She said the prime site will be re-examined and that the council is very keen to develop it but, she confirmed, the housing section of the local authority has plans for a portion of the former factory land.

The former Pretty Polly, Sara Lee and plant is now derelict

Councillors have expressed disappointment that the commercial aspect of the development has been put on ice but they welcomed the fact that additional housing will be built there.

It hasn’t been confirmed if it will be the council itself or a housing body that will develop the new houses or how many units will be built.

Some concern was expressed regarding the density of houses in that part of Killarney given the new estate currently being built in the Tiernaboul and Spa area but council officials confirmed that when stability returns to the economy, expressions of interest will again be invited to proceed with the development of the site as a joint commercial and residential venture.

The now derelict site and 25,000sf ft building, vacant since 2009, was given in trust tho the former Killarney Town Council and is now under the control of Kerry County Council.

Pretty Polly, which once employed ell over 1,000 people, closed in 1995 but 300 jobs were then generated when the Chicago-based Sara Lee corporation moved in. When that facility closed a decade later, medical products firm Beocare created just under 50 jobs at the plant but the shutters finally came down in 2009.