New Brunswick

Hundreds of new apartment units on the way in Saint John

2020 has been a surprisingly good year for multi-unit residential projects in Saint John with 250 units approved and another 250 in the approval process.

Seniors and young singles driving demand

The Oceanside Lofts project is now under construction on Saint John's Lower Cove Loop. The company says three units are already rented even though the building will not open until fall of next year. (Oceanside Lofts)

2020 has been a surprisingly good year for multi-unit residential projects in Saint John. 

"I'm teasing folks saying our cranes are up three hundred per cent," said Mayor Don Darling, referring to a handful of construction cranes visible in the city's Uptown.

The municipality has approved 250 residential units so far this year, with another 250 in the approval process.

Darling points specifically to a long–awaited 47 unit non-profit housing project on Wellington Row, an 82 unit building on Mountain View Drive, a 24 unit building on Heather Way and an 83 unit building on Wentworth Street.

But there are others. 

An 88 unit project was approved for Millidge Avenue in January and a five storey, 29 unit building is now under construction at the south end of the city's Central Peninsula. It marks a new phase of the recently renovated Oceanside Urban Lofts development in the former Salvation Army hostel.

The new building, facing Lower Cove Loop, will have unrestricted views of the port and Bay of Fundy.

While only the first floor is now taking shape, rental manager Wendy Eldridge says she has three confirmed renters in place for the opening in Fall of 2021

A 47 unit mixed-income residential building has been approved for Wellington Row. It will be owned by Saint John Non Profit Housing. (Saint John Non Profit Housing)

"I think for people to rent an apartment a year out is amazing," said Eldridge, who describes the demographics in the already completed building and the new phase under construction as a mix of young professionals and recent retirees in their 50's and 60's.

Mayor Darling says permits have been issued for $78 million in new construction so far this year, which, despite COVID-19, exceeds the ten year average.

The figure does not break down the types of development.

The Kennebecasis Valley communities of Rothesay and Quispamsis have also enjoyed a boom of new multi–unit construction. Six buildings have been completed or are nearing completion in Rothesay over the past two to three years, totalling 129 new units. 

"I'm really pleased with this, the one's in the downtown area especially," said the town's mayor, Dr. Nancy Grant. "I think a lot of this is being driven by downsizing seniors."

"The seniors want to be able to walk to as much as they can. We do have a very walkable downtown core." 

Despite the burst of activity, no new approvals have been issued for multi-unit buildings so far this year in Rothesay.

An identical pair of 36 unit apartment buildings sit on either side of the Rothesay/Quispamsis town line. The building on right - in Quispamsis - was completed earlier this year. (Connell Smith, CBC)

Next door in Quispamsis, construction was approved for a 100 unit, three-building project on Hampton Road in June.

Another 42 unit building, also on Hampton Road, was approved in 2019.

That building is now under construction.

Two other residential apartment buildings in the town - approved earlier - were completed this year.

The Town of Hampton is also seeing a surge in multi-unit activity.

Three buildings totalling 36 units were approved this year and a 21 unit mixed–income building, approved in 2019, was completed.

No multi-unit residential projects have been approved this year in Grand Bay-Westfield.

About the Author

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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