New Brunswick

Old Bathurst mill site slated for luxury condos, strip malls

The old Bathurst mill site could soon be home to luxury condos and two strip malls, with a new campground across the river, says its new owner.

Bathurst Redevelopment Inc. has transferred former Smurfit-Stone property to businessman Raymond Robichaud

Raymond Robichaud's development plans for the old Bathurst mill site include luxury condos and a mini-mall. (Courtesy of Raymond Robichaud)

The old Bathurst mill site could soon be home to luxury condos and two strip malls, with a new campground across the river, says its new owner.

Raymond Robichaud, a businessman from Bouchtouche, says Bathurst Redevelopment Inc., has transferred the property to him.

Robichaud made the announcement at Monday night's council meeting, along with Minister of Environment Brian Kenny, who is also the MLA for Bathurst West-Beresford.

​​Robichaud declined to divulge any details about the deal with Bathurst Redevelopment Inc., which is still facing a charge of failing to clean up of the site.

A wrecking ball could be on site by May, says Raymond Robichaud. (City of Bathurst)
But he told CBC News he plans to do an environmental cleanup, then begin development of the property, located about one kilometre from the heart of Bathurst.

A wrecking ball could be on site by May, and construction on a retail store could start as early as the summer, Robichaud said.

"There will be two strip malls, five units each. And … I want to build a four-unit, five-star apartment building where they can park their boats at the bottom and they can park their cars in the garages," he said.

"On the other side of the river, I'm gonna put a campground. There's room for about 200 campers."

Any environmental hotspots, which require more cleanup, will become parking lots, he added.

Robichaud will have to hit benchmarks through each phase of development to keep him accountable and make sure the property is cleaned up properly, said Kenny.

Otherwise, he will face penalties, the minister said.

'Big dreams'

Robichaud says he's already "been to hell and back at least three times" negotiating for the site he describes as looking like a "war zone."

He says Bathurst Redevelopment Inc. initially wanted a large amount of money for the property, which had a $6.5 million lien on it and nearly $1 million in taxes outstanding.

I'm not going to stop until it happens.- Raymond Robichaud, developer

But he "finally hashed out a deal" with the company president, Raymond Stillwell, provincial officials and investors.

"I'm not going to stop until it happens," he said.

Coun. Anne-Marie Gammon says she is excited.

"He's got big dreams and I think it's dreams that he can realize," she said. "He will have to work hard."

"We're not going to see something tomorrow. It's got to go through all of the phases of the paperwork and getting the reports, and getting an engineering firm to read the reports and see where's the contamination," she said.

Trial over cleanup to proceed

Meanwhile, the province's case against Bathurst Redevelopment Inc. under the Clean Environment Act will proceed in an attempt to reclaim back taxes, Kenny said. A trial is scheduled for May 13.

Environment Minister Brian Kenny, who is also the local MLA, says the province's court case against Bathurst Redevelopment Inc. under the Clean Environment Act will proceed to trial on May 13. (CBC)
Bathurst Redevelopment Inc., a Canadian subsidiary of Illinois-based Green Investment Group, bought the former Smurfit-Stone mill property in 2010.

The Green Investment Group promised a "green cleanup" when it bought the property through its Canadian subsidiary. However, the site was only stripped of valuable metals and equipment and left in disrepair, according to government officials.

The mill has been closed since 2005, when 270 people were thrown out of work.

Bathurst Redevelopment Inc. was charged last fall for allegedly failing to comply with a ministerial order by Kenny to clean up with site by Aug. 14.

Companies found guilty of violations under the Clean Environment Act can face penalties of up to $1 million.

Close to $1 million is owed in back taxes on the property, Kenny has said.