Developer vague on convention centre start date
Joe Ramia says the project will go ahead
A plan to build a convention centre in downtown Halifax is moving ahead, but the developer behind the project won't say when he'll actually break ground.
Joe Ramia, head of Rank Inc., has spent the last three years trying to bring the project to life.
"That's what we work toward every day, is to break ground, " he said. "I'm telling you today we are still working on it. We are working on moving it forward with the convention centre being at the heart of it."
The project, which includes a tower and a hotel complex, came with a $159 million price tag. But that was only guaranteed until April 2011.
Both the provincial and municipal governments have agreed to spend $56 million each.
But a key piece of the development is finding tenants for the tower, which will generate the income.
"When we announced this project, we were 80 per cent occupancy," said Ramia. "When the Eurozone faltered, it caused a lot of problems."
Ramia said they've been talking to possible businesses around the world. He said he doesn't feel threatened as other downtown development projects are announced.
"We're very happy to see development in the city," he said. "We're happy with the stage we're at right now.
Premier Darrell Dexter estimated last year that the project would mean about 1,700 person years of employment and $9.5 million in provincial tax revenue.