Moncton extends option to purchase Highfield Square site
City plans to open a $100M sports and entertainment complex in January 2017
Moncton city council has approved a six-month extension on its option with Warren Gate Investment Inc. that could see the city purchase the old Highfield Square property.
The city had until March 2013 to buy the property for $6 million, where it plans to build a $100-million sports and entertainment complex.
But Warren Gate Investment Inc. officials asked for the extension as it finalizes internal paperwork of its own.
City council agreed to the extension at a meeting on Monday night, which puts the sale off until September 2013.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he does not have a problem with the delay.
"We have to be sure that council is satisfied that this is a project that we can do and we can do well and at a reasonable cost," he said.
In order for the orginal March deadline to have been met, the actual sale would have had to happen in December, according to Jacques Dubé, the city manager.
The company officials indicated to the city they could not complete their negotiations with their bank in time to meet that deadline.
"So that's really the reason why they're asking for an extension, not because they have any reluctance, they're very supportive of the sale," Dubé said.
Later this month, council plans to ask for a request for qualifications to see which companies are interested in developing the project.
Even after the request for qualifications is issued, Dubé said there are several additional steps to take before the project moves forward.
Dubé hopes the land deal will be finalized by September 2013, but said the centre will not be open for several years after that hurdle is cleared.
"It means we'll have a very large New Year’s Eve party at the new centre on Jan. 1, 2017 and perhaps we'll have the first [Moncton] Wildcats game maybe earlier than that, who knows, but that's the intent," he said.
Moncton paid $25,000 earlier this year to buy an option to purchase the downtown piece of real estate.
Moncton also asked four architects to design concepts for the new facility. All of the renderings, which were released in April, featured a 10,000-seat arena and a convention centre, as well as a shopping centre, restaurants, condos and an outdoor space.
While the price tag for the proposed sports and entertainment complex is estimated at more than $100 million, the city has not determined how it will be funded.
Last December, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, rejected Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre.