The Exchange District will be focusing on building rather than recycling for the next while.

The first new rental complex building in the Exchange District National Historic Site should start construction this March.

The new building, which will be called 98 Market because it is going to be located at 98 Market Ave., will be on the east side of the Exchange.

Construction is expected to start in March, and the new building's completion is planned for September 2017.

There are other rental properties in the area, such as the ones on Waterfront Drive, but this one is said to be the first one within the Exchange District National Historic Site.

Albert Cheung

Retired photographer Albert Cheung, left, has lived or worked in the Exchange District for more than 30 years and says the area could use some younger residents. (Leif Larsen/CBC)

This is one of the first projects approved by CentreVenture's Live Downtown program, an initiative that focuses on developing surface parking lots in the downtown area in a way that's affordable for the property owner and for tenants

"We have about 1,000 housing units now in the Exchange District," Angela Mathieson, president and CEO of CentreVenture, told CBC News on Friday. "We've had a lot of conversion projects. This is the first new build right in the historic site.

"We've been running incentive programs for downtown housing for about 15 years now and we've got about 2,700 housing units that have been built as a result. We've got another 600 in the planning stages," she added.

"These things really make the [difference] and make it more economic to develop downtown."

The parking lot in question is owned by retired photographer Albert Cheung. He's worked or lived on Market Avenue for more than 30 years and said the area could use younger faces.

"When I first got my property on Market Avenue back in '83, the street was almost empty," Cheung said. "There were sewing-type of manufacturing [buildings]. Come five 'o clock, there would be a lineup of traffic picking up workers. Other than that, the street was deserted."

98 Market plan

98 Market is one of the first projects approved by CentreVenture's Live Downtown program. (Courtesy Albert Cheung)

Less parking space

But the development program means less space for the increased population to park their cars. Mathieson said parking has been taken into consideration, but it's not a top concern.

"We do believe parking is an important part of growing our downtown," she said.

"What we'd like to do is park smarter. We don't think surface parking lots contribute to the area. We've had some new parkade developments downtown and I think the market will adjust and we'll see more parkades as surface parking lots become more economical to develop."

The Exchange District is known for its historic look, but Mathieson said the new building will have a modern-but-matching look to it.

"What Albert's done with his architect is mimic the rhythm and the pattern through the use of windows and bricks," she said.

"They're not trying to make it look old, nor do we think they should. But they're playing a bit of homage to what [the Exchange District] looks like today."

Cheung said the modern look is just what the area needs — a mix of old with the new.

"That's called progress," he said.