New Brunswick

Questionable future for 'significant' Fredericton building

Councillors have been told Sutton House on Queen Street needs about $400,000 worth of repairs to its side veneer and possibly another $1 million in roof work.

City-owned building in the downtown is in need of repairs

Sutton House is owned by the city and in need of $1.4 million in repairs, according to estimates. (Lauren Bird, CBC News)

Another of Fredericton's older buildings is facing a questionable future.

City councillors have been told that Sutton House, at 335 Queen St., needs about $400,000 worth of repairs to the building's side veneer. And, according to a consultant's report, possibly another $1 million is needed for the building's roof.

"I was expecting for a while to get a report from our building maintenance people on the state of Sutton House," said Coun. Greg Ericson, "because there have been reported problems with leaky roofs and a few other things over the years. 

"I wasn't aware how expensive it was going to be."

The city has owned Sutton House for 16 years and uses the building for office space. It sits between the police station and Chess Piece Patisserie, next to the site where a new seven-storey office and apartment building is slated for construction. 

Ericson said the city will look at several options for the building, including selling the property or demolishing it. 

The building's side veneer needs about $400,000 in repairs. (Lauren Bird CBC News )

The building's heritage value is in question.

"So the city staff are in consultations with the province to figure out the exact nature of the heritage designation, to see if it's flexible or not," said Ericson, who is also the chair of the city's finance and administration committee. 

Still Sutton House listed as "significant" under the city's Heritage Resources Inventory.  

Many people have voiced concerns about the city's handling of heritage or historically significant properties.

The Risteen building was built in the 1820s and was the first cut-stone building in New Brunswick. It was demolished in September after being denied a heritage designation. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

These include Officers' Square, where numerous trees have been removed so the city can add a rink, performance stage and other contemporary features, and the recent demolition of the circa-1820s Risteen Building, the first cut-stone building in New Brunswick.  

The city won't decide what to do with Sutton House until mid-2020, after it has finished assessing its office space needs.

"To do a repair on a facility that is worth half of the assessed value of the building, without knowing if that building is or is not going to be in our future needs, that's the reason why we'd be deferring that," said Brown.

"We think that's the wisest financial decision at this point in time," he added.  

By the time the city does decide what to do with the building, construction on the new adjacent complex will be underway and that will make the repairs on Sutton House even more expensive, said Brown.