Several historic buildings in uptown Saint John are facing an uncertain future after the city bought them in preparation for the construction of Peel Plaza.
Plans for the controversial justice complex project have changed and many of the buildings, including the so-called jellybean houses, are no longer needed, according to city officials.
Heritage backers hope to see the group of city-owned buildings along Wellington Row, Union and Carleton streets preserved.
The streetscape is diverse and significant, said Leona Laracey, chair of the city's heritage development board.
'Designation is the only protection there is.'—Leona Laracey, heritage development board
"It contains examples of architecture over seven different periods in time," she said.
Many of the buildings date back to the 19th century and survived the Great Fire of 1877.
The jellybean houses, named for their colourful paint jobs, for example, were built around 1860. They are Second Empire row houses with distinctive carved windows.
The heritage group has a request before council that all of the buildings around Peel Plaza be given heritage protection before the city puts them up for sale to ensure they can't be torn down by future owners.
"Designation is the only protection there is," said Laracey.
City to issue call for proposals
Mayor Ivan Court suggested during Monday night's council meeting that all of the buildings might not be protected.
"It would be nice to have people in line to build something, whether we tear some of the existing buildings down and they're turned over to developers, whatever it happens to be," he said.
"So a proposal call, I think should be happening about some time this fall to get ahead of the game for the next building season."
Court said some of the buildings could be turned over to non-profit groups for renovation.
The multi-million dollar Peel Plaza project has been scaled back from the original proposal six years ago.
It has been estimated to cost $42 million and includes a new courthouse, police station and parking garage.
The project is scheduled to be complete in 2012.