New Brunswick

Riverview selling town building for 10-storey development

The Town of Riverview has agreed to sell property along its riverfront for $800,000 to a developer that plans to build 10-storey towers as early as next year. The plans had been opposed by some residents last year.

Council agrees to sell Chocolate River Station to Cordova Realty for $800,0000

Cordova Realty Ltd. proposed to build two 10-storey towers on Coverdale Road on land purchased from the Town of Riverview. The development worth more than $30 million would include street-front retail and 150 residential units. (Submitted/Cordova Realty)

The Town of Riverview has agreed to sell property along its riverfront for $800,000 to a developer that plans to build 10-storey towers as early as next year. 

Town councillors voted unanimously Monday in favour of selling the Chocolate River Station property to Moncton-based Cordova Realty Ltd. There was no discussion before the vote. 

"It's an exciting project for our town," Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans said in an interview Tuesday. 

The former fire hall on Coverdale Road, renovated to serve as commercially leased space, is metres from a waterfront trail and the muddy bank of the Petitcodiac River. The property's assessed value this year is $1.6 million.

Cordova unveiled plans last year that would see the building demolished and replaced with a mixed-used structure with two towers connected at the base. The building would include ground floor commercial space, 150 residential units and indoor parking. 

The building is proposed for the riverfront on the site of the Chocolate River Station, shown at the centre, and vacant adjacent land. (Google Maps)

At a public hearing in April 2019, the plans drew opposition from some residents who worried it would change the character of Riverview.

The plans would retain the waterfront boardwalk as well as the parking lot where the Buddha Bear Riverview sells beer and coffee.

The agreement would see the property transferred to Cordova on March 31, 2021. 

Seamans and Colin Smith, the town's chief administrative officer, said in a joint interview that their understanding is Cordova will start construction next year.

Town council approved a sale agreement for the land on Monday. (Submitted/Cordova Realty)

They said the overall plans remain the same as what was presented to the town's planning committee last year, though some of the design may be refined based on feedback from the public. 

In an emailed statement sent Tuesday evening, Cordova president John McManaman confirmed plans to begin construction next year.

The building is among major developments the company has brought forward in the Moncton region over the past year, including separate plans for a five-storey apartment building along Coverdale Road, plans for a multi-phase residential development in Moncton's north end and mid-rise buildings in Moncton's Vision Lands. 

Cordova submitted an unsolicited offer to buy the town property in February 2019. It already owns a property to the west. 

The staff report states the project, estimated last year to cost about $32 million to build. Smith noted that is around the average total value of building permits issued in the town annually. 

"So that one development is a significant impact in one year," he said.

The Chocolate River Station in Riverview would be demolished to make way for the new building. ( Pierre Fournier/CBC)

The report estimates it would result in property tax revenue of about $500,000 annually, compared to the $41,000 annually the town pays in taxes for the existing building.

The town says the Chocolate River Station has been costing the town money to own and operate. The town had spent about $2 million to renovate the former fire hall in 2008, staff have previously said.

Smith said there are two tenants leasing space that will have to vacate the building by the end of March 2021. 

"The town really should never be landlords, I don't believe," Seamans said. "We figured that out along the way."

She said the building will see the town go from losing money to seeing more tax revenue, more people living in the town and more people within walking distance of existing businesses. 

Residents had raised questions last year about whether the site along the river would be suitable for a building of that scale. 

"We have completed in-depth environmental and geotechnical studies to ensure we are erecting a building that is stable and respectful of the surrounding river and ecosystem," McManaman said in the statement. 

While the sales agreement was approved, Smith said the company will still need a building permit before work can begin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC. He can be reached at shane.magee@cbc.ca and on Twitter at @mageecbc.

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