A SECOND Millennium Court tenant has come forward to warn that he may have to relocate his business after a request to have his rent reduced was refused by landlords Portadown 2000.
Photographer Justin O’Neill of Orchard Photography Studio said he is facing the same dilemma as Creative Destruction owner Michael Hermin, who warned last week that he may have to relocate because of the “cripping costs” of rent and rates.
Both business owners requested to have their monthly rental fee, which includes VAT, reduced in order to them “breathing space”. However, they each received a letter on Tuesday signed by Tony Fearon, business services manager at Portadown 2000, rejecting their request. In the letters, which have been seen by the Portadown Times, it is stated that the rental fee would remain at its current level.
Mr O’Neill is now to “seriously consider” renting commercial premises elsewhere, including outside of Portadown.
“I’m looking at a property in Portadown, one in Moira and I’m considering Armagh as well,” said Mr O’Neill. “I was first tenant to move here when all the other units were empty, so I was taking a bit of a gamble. When I put in the request I thought they would show some loyalty but it was a flat ‘no’.”
Both Mr O’Neill and Mr Hermin claim tenants who have subsequently moved into Millennium Court are paying rent at a reduced price. “I’m aware that tenants that have moved in since I did are paying cheaper. The next step is to find out why they (Portadown 2000) refused the request,” said Mr Hermin.
Gamers are now rallying to keep Creative Destruction in Portadown, including one card trader who hosts weekly events for fellow enthusiasts in the shop.
Chris Deering, (20), who organises sessions where trading card devotees can buy and swap cards in Creative Destruction, described the situation facing the store as “gutting”.
The Gilford Road man, who attended the Portadown Times’ reporter clinic in Cafe Rhema last Friday to voice his support, has spent £300 of his money to establish the weekly sessions.
“The £300 has been spent on getting things like insurance. It’s taken six months to get it set up so if (the store) goes under or relocates, that’s an awful lot of work that has gone to waste,” said Chris.
The sessions are held every Wednesday between 4 and 10pm and collectors and players can buy or swap cards or enter into a card tournament with prizes for the winners.
“It would be a real kick in the teeth if Creative Destruction were to go,” insisted Chris. “The nearest place (like Creative Destuction) is in Bangor and I don’t drive.”
Other supporters took to Creative Destruction’s Facebook page to vent their frustration. One wrote that it was “disgraceful” that Mr Hermin was facing the dilemma.
Tony Fearon of Portadown 2000 said he was “not authorised to comment”.