Now used for parking and special events, the space is considered by many to be the city’s most valuable real estate asset. Formerly known as the “Old Coast Guard site,” the land was purchased by the city and province, and over the past couple of years, existing former Canadian Coast Guard buildings have been torn down to make way for new development.
Common council voted Monday to grant a two-year option to Elias Management Group, as well as a 25-year lease-to-own agreement.
Developer Dr. David Elias is quick to point out these are early steps with no project commitments yet. He says they are looking for viable options for the site, which he says has the potential for $200 million worth of projects when fully developed.
“Right now there’s some positive market conditions that exist for residential, either rental residential or potentially condo residential,” Elias said.
“We do know that also there’s some positive market factors that exist right now for hotels.”
Elias points out there’s a lot of work to be done. Some of that works falls to the city, with the repair of the seawall over the next two years among other tasks on the city’s to-do list.
Officials recognize there may be skepticism, with lots of talk surrounding the project over the years producing no results.
“There’s been nothing but doubt for a long time in this community because there have been a number of false starts over the years,” said Steve Carson of Develop Saint John.
“This isn’t simple and there’s obviously lots of moving parts”
Despite cautious optimism, there were lots of smiles around the council table on Monday. ” I can’t cheerlead it enough,” said Councillor Blake Armstrong.
While the site is being prepared, the community will be consulted and final design specifications will be completed. A province also owns a portion of the land. A development agreement with government is also contingent on the deal moving forward.