St. John's city council has given the green light to the first phase of a $5-billion development near Southlands.

On Tuesday night, council approved the rezoning of four pieces of land, about 10 per cent of the Glencrest project.

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is heading up the massive development, which is estimated at 2,400 acres once completed — about the size of Gander.

The land development will incorporate residential neighbourhoods, shopping districts and industrial areas. The chunk of land approved this week will become a new housing development. 

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe says Glencrest will be a major economic boost.

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Mayor Dennis O'Keefe says Glencrest will be one of the greatest economic transformers that will occur in St. John's over the next 20 years. (CBC)

"The Glencrest development will bring positive economic energy to this city for years and years to come," said O'Keefe. "It will not only provide employment, tax revenues to the city, amenities and parks — but living space, residential space, industrial and commercial retail space over the next 15 to 20 years. We're talking about billions of dollars of economic development."

The proposal received enthusiastic reviews from all members of council, including deputy mayor Shannie Duff.

"I was impressed by the amount of effort, research and thought that's going into the Glencrest development," said Duff. "I think we will have something that we will be proud of if what the developers dream actually does come true."