New Brunswick

'No plans' for boarded-up J.D. Irving building in Saint John heritage district

J.D. Irving Ltd. has no plans for the vacant and boarded-up building it owns in a designated Saint John heritage district, a company spokesperson says.

Heritage board rejected 2016 JDI application to demolish the apartment house

This six-unit apartment house in Saint John is owned by J.D. Irving Ltd. and dates from 1941. A 2016 application to demolish it was rejected by the city's Heritage Development Board. (Connell Smith, CBC)

J.D. Irving Ltd. has no plans for the vacant and boarded-up building it owns in a designated Saint John heritage district, a company spokesperson says.

The six-unit apartment house at 111-113 King Street East has been boarded up and disconnected from the electric grid and is showing signs of deterioration.

JDI spokesperson Mary Keith said Tuesday there are "no plans at this time for the site."

But Coun. Donna Reardon, a former member of the city's Heritage Development Board, fears the company is allowing the building to slip into ruin.

Graffiti and peeling paint at the boarded-up entrance to the JDI-owned apartment house at 111 King Street East. (Connell Smith, CBC)

"My concern is that neglect is happening there," said Reardon, who has spoken out publicly on the issue at council meetings and via Twitter.

"The building will be lost over time. It looks like there's absolutely no intention of trying to save it or salvage it or do anything with it."

The building had been occupied in the early 2010s, but the company applied to the city Heritage Development Board in August 2016 for permission to demolish it.

The application stated the house is water-damaged inside, in need of a new roof and suffering in places from dry rot. 

As part of its application, JDI enlisted Moncton architect Jeff VanDommelen.

VanDommelen told board members the building is "out of context" with older, Victorian-era architecture along King Street  East. 

'Neglect is happening here,' says Coun. Donna Reardon. (CBC)

He recommended a small "heritage monument green space" on the lot.

The company's presentation included a concept drawing for a small park on the site that would include features representing its history as home to a church dating from the 1840s.

In a report, city staff recommended against the demolition application arguing the building is an important part of the "streetscape."

"It is considered a unique piece that is just one of many that make up this historic street. Each building in any heritage area is important." 

JDI proposed a memorial park for 111-113 King Street East, at a corner where a church stood prior to 1941. (Saint John Heritage Development Board)

The application was rejected by a majority of board members.

The company was left with the option of selling the property or listing it for sale for a period of six months after which the building could be legally removed.

No attempt was made to list the building publicly. 

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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