Paramount Theatre demolition

Demolition of the Paramount Theatre, which began last fall, was recently completed and property owner Paul Daeres plans to turn the site into a parking lot, at least temporarily. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

The Saint John parking commission has withdrawn its application to turn the former Paramount Theatre site into a parking lot.

The decision was made during a special meeting held Thursday in light of opposition from common council.

"We let the mayor and councillors express their opinion on it. Then Richard Smith, who's our general manager, explained why we put the application in," commission chair, Coun. Donna Reardon, told CBC News.

"Then I just made a motion that we would withdraw it. It was seconded and it was unanimous that we would withdraw our application from the city for a parking lot there."

Council believes the uptown property, next to King's Square, can serve a better purpose.

"We want to see something that's compatible with the downtown core, that kind of density and complete community that we want to see in Saint John. Not a surface parking lot," Mayor Mel Norton said.

Reardon says she's happy the application was withdrawn, but says the property's owner, Paul Daeres, can still apply to turn the property into a parking lot independently.

Daeres has said if the space becomes a parking lot, it would only be temporary, to recover expenses.

He spent the past several months tearing down the former theatre after years of unsuccessful attempts to restore and develop the derelict 1947 building.

Daeres says he would like to eventually see the now- vacant property used for an office building.

"But right now, there [are] no tenants. How could you build anything, [a] building with no tenants?"

Saint John architect Stephen Kopp says when properties are turned into parking lots, they often stay that way, and "for a long time."

"You can see examples of that throughout the city," he said. "So temporary parking, even if it's supposed to be for a few years, will generate some revenue for [Daeres], and chances of building something will be slim."