The former Dominion Building will house 70 high-end apartments.

A Halifax developer plans to convert most of the Dominion Building into high-end apartments.

George Ramia bought the surplus building from the federal government last August. The structure, which has served as Charlottetown's main post office and an office building, will eventually house 70 units.

 Construction crews have already gutted the upper floors, where luxury one and two-bedroom apartments will be located. Some will have rooftop terraces; others will have waterfront views.

Real estate agent Joel Ives sees the development as positive, even though Charlottetown already has a number of high-end condominiums.

"I think the rental will look after another part of the market," he said.

"I think that the more people that want to live downtown — whether it's rent or buy — will only help either market, either way."

Vacancies increasing

Charlottetown also has its share of apartments. The vacancy rate this spring was about five per cent, or nearly double what it had been a year previous.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the rate increased due to a recent building boom, with more than 400 apartment units created in the city over the past two years.

The renovated Dominion Building is expected to be ready for occupancy early next year. The developer also plans to convert the ground floor of the building to retail and commercial space during a future phase of the project.

Ives doesn't think the extra space will hurt the market.

"I think our downtown is doing pretty good," he said. "Everybody's working hard at trying to fill the spaces."