East Point Shopping in Saint John going residential
4 multi-unit residential buildings planned for large, vacant property
After 10 years of trying to fill its sprawling east Saint John retail complex, Horizon Management, owners of East Point Shopping, is going residential.
The company has applied for, and received, a rezoning of parts of the 53-acre complex to allow multi-unit residential buildings, some with ground-floor retail units, alongside existing box stores and plazas.
City planning officials describe the move as part of a North American trend to deal with such things as online shopping.
"The retail landscape is changing," municipal planner Mark Reid told city councillors Monday. "There's a lot less built, bricks and mortar retail, if you will."
Reid cited Toronto's Yorkdale Mall and the Dalhousie Co-op in Calgary as examples where residential buildings are now being mixed into shopping complexes.
"Obviously the changing demographics, changing retail purchasing has made retail developments have to adapt to that," said John Wheatley, representing Horizon Management. "And we're hopeful that this will continue to make developments such as East Point to be a viable and healthy contributor to the economy."
The two paint a picture of a community with a "main street" feel, with retail street front and residential units above or behind.
Sidewalks are already in place, there's a weekly farmers market, along with restaurants, pharmacy, a grocery and a liquor store, said Reid.
200 residential units
The company is proposing 200 residential units in four new buildings in a currently open space roughly between the buildings that house PetSmart and NB Liquor and the collection of stores that includes Indigo and the Gap.
Two future multi-unit residential developments could be located on either side of Retail Drive near Costco.
Develop Saint John CEO Steve Carson spoke in favour of the proposal to both city councillors and, earlier, the planning advisory committee.
He said the city's rental vacancy rate has declined from 11.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent over the past three years.
Citing CMHC research, he said the vacancy rate for newly built residential buildings on the city's east side is zero.
City councillors gave first reading to creation of a new zone for the municipal plan called "Regional-Commercial-Residential."
Could be used by other shopping centres
Reid said it can now, should the property owners wish, be applied to other retail complexes, like McAllister Place or the Lancaster Mall in west Saint John.
Reid said the addition of 200 apartments will contribute to existing traffic problems at the intersections of Rothesay Avenue and Retail Drive as well as Rothesay Avenue and Ashburn Lake Road.
He said both intersections could see a 10 per cent increase in traffic during the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. rush hour peak.