Jelly Bean buildings

A plan to redevelop two of Saint John's Jelly Bean houses hasn't come together, and time is running out for the properties. (Google Street View)

Saint John council will decide on Monday whether to issue one last call for developers to take over four decayed, city-owned buildings.

They include two on Union Street, and two so-called Jelly Bean houses on Wellington Row.

In a report, city staff say the buildings should be torn down, but they also recommend the city try to find buyers for them first.

'My stomach tells me they're probably ready for the wrecking ball.' - Brian Irving, City of Saint John real estate manager

The buildings are among a group of properties purchased by the city in 2007 and 2008 for possible development of the Peel Plaza justice complex.

Plans for the project changed and the buildings have been unheated and vacant since then.

The four buildings were offered to developers once already with no success.

Coun. John MacKenzie says he hopes they get one last chance.

"I think if we can salvage buildings such as these and rejuvenate them that's the way to go. It saves the city money in terms of tearing them down, then you have the vacant lot," said MacKenzie.

"If somebody wants to buy them that's revenue, and if they fix them up we have tax dollars coming in again."

Time running out

Brian Irving, manager of real estate for the city of Saint John, doesn't share MacKenzie's optimism.

"My stomach tells me they're probably ready for the wrecking ball," Irving said.

"If somebody wants to take this on and think they can do it, who are we to say no?"

Irving says there does appear to be interest from developers even though nothing panned out when they first issued a call for interest in the summer.

Architect Robert Boyce chairs Saint John's Heritage Development Board. He says time is running out for the properties, but there is still potential.

"All of them represent the pre-fire era, in terms of pre-1877," said Boyce.

"They've been unheated, no electricity no plumbing services, but unless they've had some floods I'm not aware of, the inside is probably salvageable."

The next option for council is to demolish and sell the land when the market improves.