Approvement in principle for the construction of 55 apartments at Marist College (the old Hermitage building ) on Retreat Road has been welcomed by the Cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council, Cllr Frankie Keena.
Funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the Capital Assistance Scheme, the proposed development will realise the construction of 12 one bed and 16 two bed apartments within the existing four storey building with a new three storey block comprising 27 two bedroom apartments incorporated into the project design.
"This Hermitage building has been vacant for a long number of years and has been subject to repeated vandalism with severe fire damage also impacting.
"Over the last number of years, I have worked closely with the Marist Order to identify the best use for this building. We had and still have one objective in mind and that is to provide a centre for the elderly and those less abled. It is so important that this objective is adhered too, and appropriate open space is included internally to cater for outside groups to visit and provide music, singing and relevant entertainment going forward.
"The location is perfect and provides ample opportunities to grow this facility from a community perspective.
"Approximately four years ago I arranged a deputation from the Council housing executive and an approved housing body to visit and look at the way in which the McAuley Centre in Naas operates.
"In fact, I have visited the McCauley Centre three times thus far during the course of this project. This exceptional facility welcomes and provides space for various community organisations and indeed students from the local secondary school to visit and integrate with the residents.
"Further to the initial discussions with the Marist College management I do feel there is now a need to meet all relevant stakeholders to include the board of management, staff, parents and local residents to brief them of this fresh proposed development," Cllr Keena asserted.