A landmark collection of buildings in Saint John has been sold to a developer with plans to convert the 13,900-square-metre property into upscale condominiums in uptown Saint John.
The building that is home to Bustin's Fine Furniture has been in the Bustin family since 1905. But now it and some neighbouring buildings on Germain Street and the warehouse behind them have been sold to Historica Developments.
"My brother Tom and I, as long as we've been here, we've always leased from our dad's estate and my mom, my mom's estate as well," said Bob Bustin, the furniture store's owner.
"And so with the family, they didn't want buildings and I wasn't interested in buying buildings in the downtown area."
Historica Developments has been buying up heritage buildings in Saint John for several years and converting them into upscale condominiums.
The latest purchase gives the company control of 18,500 square metres of uptown property.
Keith Brideau, the co-founder of Historica, said he sees the latest property purchase as a natural transition for the company.
"It was about a $1.5-million acquisition, but it will probably be another few million dollars invested in cash as well, which is a pretty huge investment for us," said Brideau.
"It's probably 25, 30 per cent bigger than our current project at Hayward and Warwick that we've just about finished. So it's a logical transition for us."
Bob Boyce, the chairperson of Saint John's heritage development board, said he is happy to see the purchase, given Historica's record of restoring buildings and filling them with occupants.
"Empty buildings can't survive," said Boyce.
"And if we're going to maintain our heritage properties within the heritage areas or within the city itself, they have to have a useful life and have to have people living in them, businesses occupying them or they wither and die."
Historica will start converting the old Canterbury Car Park warehouse space into 14 to 16 high-end lofts.
Bustin has worked out a lease with Historia to continue operating the furniture store in the building they owned for more than a century.