Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc says the city is busy working on a plan to see the Highfield Square Mall property turned into a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment centre.
The mall will close its doors in less than two weeks, but the city has been sorting out the details on a new complex that may replace the shopping centre.
Moncton announced in March that it had worked out an agreement that could see a new entertainment centre situated on the property.
The city paid $25,000 to acquire an option to purchase the land. The land sale could cost Moncton $6 million.
"I believe the option has to be exercised by the end of this year and a closing by March of next year. So, time is moving along," LeBlanc said.
But the city’s mayor said there is more to do than just buy the land.
He said the city is working to come up with a comprehensive plan for the development, which includes financing the infrastructure project.
"You know the cost has been estimated to be something in the range of a $100 million. We started out at about $75 million," he said.
"It's possible and I'm hopeful we'll be able to bring the higher number down find a way to get this done within our means."
Funding request denied
The project has already run into some roadblocks. Last December, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, rejected Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre.
LeBlanc said that was a tough blow for the city, but officials are looking at ways to work around it.
The mayor said council will be looking for some financial support from the provincial government.
LeBlanc said a status report on the project will soon be presented to city council.
"We'll be looking at long-term projections on the budget for the city of Moncton. We'll be looking at all of the future possibilities of this land and the project," he said.
Moncton politicians have been talking about replacing the aging Moncton Coliseum for several years.
In April, the city unveiled four possible plans for the downtown centre. All of the renderings featured a 10,000-seat arena and a convention centre, as well as a shopping centre, restaurants, condos and an outdoor space.
The idea of a downtown event centre has been popular with local businesses. Downtown Moncton Inc., a business group in the city, has committed $2.5 million to the convention centre project.