The developer of Saint John's East Point shopping district is planning an ambitious new project next to the throughway on the city's east side.
Called "The Crossing," the proposal would mix retail, commercial and recreational activities on a 180-acre plot between Highway 1 and Ashburn Road.
Part of the proposal is creation of a linear eco park using a section of Little Marsh Creek that threads through the property.
Horizon Management Ltd. is developing the project. The provincial corporate registry lists Troy Northrup as the company's only director.
Horizon Management has applied for an amendment to Saint John's municipal plan and redesignation of several land parcels to permit the project.
In its pitch to city council, the developer touts the proposed construction of 500,000 sq. ft of new buildings which would add millions to the city's property tax base.
'A wonderful idea.' - Coun. David Merrithew
The document describes shops, hotel, food services, entertainment, a business park and a "residential component."
No one from Horizon Management was available for an interview.
The concept includes walking and biking trails, something the Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) has been pushing for across the city, though Marsh Creek, which runs through the property, is subject to flooding.
Graeme Stewart-Robertson, the executive director of ACAP, says the proper oversights must be in place.
"We can actually see a new commercial development reduce the overall runoff in an area where they've either increased the storage capacity, reduced peak runoff volume, increased the lag time that water enters the stream," he said.
However, Elizabeth McGahan, a nearby resident says there are kinks to work out, including traffic bottlenecks, especially on the western exit that also connects to the highway.
"Oh my gracious. I'm calm compared to some of my neighbours. They cannot believe that they would even consider a development of this size on that piece of land," said McGahan.
"On one end it'll flow into the end of the road that is taken by the regional hospital employees, the university employees – everybody that gets out of work at four o'clock comes out here, and there's backlog everyday," she said.
But east side city Coun. David Merrithew called it "a wonderful idea."
"I have talked to the developers, I have talked to our city manager about it. You know, we think — the city of Saint John — thinks it's a wonderful idea, we're backing it."
Merrithew says the project will have to go through a number of approvals, including a review by municipal planning staff and by the city's planning advisory committee.