Nova Scotia

Multi-million dollar development proposed for Sydney waterfront

A Cape Breton developer is proposing a multi-million dollar complex on Sydney's waterfront after the municipality issued a request for ideas for the redevelopment of the area.

Developer Martin Chernin 'positive' about future of harbour district

An artist's rendering of proposed Sydney waterfront development. (Trifos Design Consultants)

A Cape Breton developer is proposing a multi-million dollar complex on Sydney's waterfront.

It's an ambitious project that would span a prime area of the waterfront between the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion and the Holiday Inn.

Marty Chernin of Harbour Royale Developments pulled together the plan after the Cape Breton Regional Municipality issued a request for proposals in October for the redevelopment of the waterfront.

Marty Chernin. (Cape Breton University)

Much of the property in the plan is municipally owned, although Chernin also owns a section and has plans to put an apartment building on the site.

The proposed complex would include a new two-storey library, an office tower, retail space and possibly the Casino Nova Scotia Sydney.

The casino is currently a couple of blocks back from the waterfront, adjacent to Sydney's major arena, Centre 200.

"We spoke to the casino people, and they said they would be not averse to looking at it, if they could get the proper financial situation to move there," Chernin said.

"Because you would be right on the waterfront, and you would have the hotels there. Really, if anyone's gone to Las Vegas, they know that casinos are in all the hotels."

'People space'

The proposal, to be presented to Cape Breton regional council at a future meeting, says the development would transform the area into "a modern, highly accessible people space" that would redefine the "downtown experience."

Chernin, a longtime developer in Cape Breton, said he's optimistic about the area's future, given the opening of the Donkin mine, the increase in tourism and the possibility of a container terminal in Sydney harbour.

"I've always been positive for this area," said Chernin. "If you want anything to happen, you have to go after it."

Chernin cautions the proposal is preliminary and he isn't saying how much it might cost.

If the concept is approved by council, he and his partners will draw up more detailed plans and come up with firm numbers.

"We've had talks with all our potential partners, and they all have indicated they would be interested in going further with this, and seeing what the numbers are, and if we can put this package together."

The partners include the Westmount Hotel Group, the Canderel Group, Ambassatours Gray Line, Trifos Design Consultants and CBCL Limited.

The highlights of the development plan include:

  • 40,000-square-foot two-storey public library.
  • Apartment building with 47 units.
  • Office tower.
  • Marine activity centre.
  • Parking space. 
  • Outdoor civic plaza.
  • 22,000-square-foot casino.
  • New eight-storey 96-room hotel expansion.