Just around the corner: 13 years of arrested development at former Saint John Coast Guard site
Moosehead's small-batch brewery is just the latest failure in the site's history
The City of Saint John's plans to revitalize the harbour front hit another snag Tuesday as Moosehead announced they wouldn't be building a small-batch brewery on the site of the old Coast Guard station.
This isn't new. The site has seen many such failures to launch over the past 13 plus years.
The city released its vision for revitalizing the harbour, which included development the Coast Guard site.
Saint John Council gave the go ahead to the Saint John Development Corporation to issue development proposals.
The council was hoping for at least three interested parties to step forward
The development was to include a hotel, condos, townhouses and more.
The Hardman Group was said to be behind the development.
The city was still in talks with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over the transfer of the site.
Still no sign of development at the site.
Waterfront Development chair Charles Swanton was still optimistic about the future of the project.
"I think the interest from the public remains pretty high in [the] waterfront, and we don't plan on letting them down. We're going to forge right ahead," said Swanton
The Saint John Waterfront Development Corporation was still in talks with the Hardman Group to open a hotel on the site back in 2011.
It was just one week earlier that the city had announced their purchase of the site from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for $2.8 million.
Even at the time however there were concerns about opening a new hotel in the city, with some industry insiders saying there wasn't enough demand for a new hotel.
"I think you need to give it a little breathing time before you start bringing in new hotels in town," said André Lavoie, who was vice-president of the hotels division with Château Hotels, at the time.
But Bill Hardman, then president of the Hardman Group, was still optimistic about the planned hotel.
"But I think in the long run it's a great hotel site, it's a great hotel property and it will, it will happen, it's just a question of when," said Hardman at the time.
The over five year wait for the land transfer from the department to the city to go through was cited by group as a major factor for the change of heart.
Kent MacIntyre was still optimistic about the site.
"It's the central, most valued piece of property in the city of Saint John and we really want to make sure this is done well," said MacIntyre.
The city completed payments on the site and announced an announcement was coming sometime that year.
Coun. Shirley McAlary, who is now the deputy mayor, spoke about what the new development, which had not been announced, would mean for the city.
"Not only will the city get the money from the land once it's developed — and they'll get the taxes from the land — but it will be just a wonderful assets for the city because it's going to bring people here," said McAlary.
The Saint John Waterfront Development Corporation said the project was estimated to be between $80 and $100 million.
"The end is near for this project for developing that site. I can safely say that," said MacIntyre.
It would come at some cost to the city. The city would be on the hook for $200,000 for environmental cleanup and repairs to the seawall.
"They weren't interested in an environmental cleanup, they weren't interested in the seawall. They said look, 'You just give us a buildable site, we'll come to your city and build,'" said MacIntyre.
Once again, the city was close to announcing what would now be a $230 million development at the site.
MacIntyre told the CBC that he was dealing with an out of province Canadian developer who loves port cities.
The structure would include a brewery as well as a tap room and retail space.
The brewery was expected to open by the end of 2017.
Moosehead Breweries scrapped their plan to build a small-batch brewery on the site.
Budget shortfalls were cited as the reason for the change of heart.
"The overall project costs ended up being significantly higher than anticipated," said Moosehead spokesperson Karen Cousins.
Shortly after the announcement, Saint John Mayor Don Darling released a statement trying to ease doubts about the waterfront property over 13 years after the first plan to develop the site was announced.
"The waterfront development site at the Port of Saint John is a prime real estate opportunity. The entire uptown core and waterfront represents significant opportunities for development and growth," said Darling.