There is some movement on a plot of land in uptown Saint John that was at the centre of controversy more than a year ago.
The city’s historic “Jelly Bean Houses” were demolished in April 2017 to make way for a mixed-income housing project.
What that project will look like has been made public.
“The Wellington,” located at the corner of Wellington Row and Union Street, is a 44-unit, mixed-income housing project by Saint John Non Profit Housing.
The $7-million initiative will feature both market-priced and subsidized housing with the motto, “We are what you create.”
“We’re looking for something that incorporates Saint John’s history as well as something that’s moving forward,” said Lisa Keenan, president of Saint John Non Profit Housing Inc.
This project has its own history — and a controversial one, at that.
The Jelly Bean Houses survived the great Saint John fire of 1877. They eventually became property of the city, and then of Saint John Non Profit Housing.
Efforts to save the buildings failed, although some things were salvaged and it’s hoped they will be part of “The Wellington.”
“Like marble fireplaces, bit of the staircase,some stained glass,” Keenan said, listing some of those items.
Former Saint John Heritage Planner Jim Bezanson was among those opposed to the demolition of the Jelly Bean Houses.
He’s still of the opinion they could have been utilized by non-profit housing to save money.
“An existing building shell is worth 30 per cent of the cost,” Bezanson said. “Nothing wrong with them. They were straight, level interior, finishes for the most part intact.”
WATCH: ‘Tonnes and tonnes’ of material salvaged prior to demolition of century old Saint John homes
Bezanson says The Wellington looks good at first glance, but the proof will lie with the end result.
Keenan is optimistic the result will be a positive one.
“When it’s actually completed, I think that the bumps along the way will well have been worth what the end result is,” Keenan said.
Construction, which is expected to take about a year, is expected to start in the spring of 2019