Shops of Founders Hall to include 'urban market,' boutiques and possibly a micro-brewery
'It is the most beautiful space in the downtown, right in the heart of the city'
Within a year, developer Paul Madden plans to turn Founders Hall on the Charlottetown waterfront into a gallery of small retail boutiques and what he's calling an "urban market."
The development will be known as Shops of Founders Hall.
Madden showed CBC around the 111-year-old building Wednesday and revealed his plans not only for it, but for the land he owns between Founders Hall and his existing Hillsborough condominium building — with partner Micro Boutique Living, he plans to develop a 136-unit micro-condo complex with some retail space on the ground floor.
Now I only need the support of the residents.— Paul Madden
"About six years I've been trying to get Founders Hall, ever since I built the first condominium building," Madden said.
"It is the most beautiful space in the downtown, right in the heart of the city."
CBC reported last week Madden, originally from Newfoundland, had bought Founders Hall from the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC).
Madden revealed he paid slightly more than the $3 million at which Founders Hall was appraised.
He estimates the development of Founders Hall will cost between $7 million and $10 million, and be done by next summer. The micro-condos will cost another $13 million to 15 million and he hopes to have them complete by September 2018.
The tiny condos will be ideal for students in the winter and tourists in the summer, Madden said.
"We're going to, hopefully if we can get through the city and the rules and regulations, have that starting in September and have that ready for next September university," Madden said.
Madden has had approval since 2013 to build a 10-unit, four-storey development there, but has yet to submit final drawings for city approval.
Madden has been working on the condo project with a company called Micro Boutique Living, owned by Chris Galea and his wife Alyson Roberts, for the past year or so.
"We're in that process of finalizing our construction drawings and all the usual stuff that needs to happen before you put a hole in the ground," Galea said recently of the project.
The company builds micro-apartments of between 250 and 400 square feet — about half the size of a typical North American apartment.
"We're really excited to bring them to Charlottetown," Galea said.
'Urban market' plans
As for the "urban market" in Founders Hall, it will be "somewhere you can go and get all the local fruits, vegetables … seafood as well … we want to have the best of the best," Madden said.
He also envisions food demonstrations and celebrity chef presentations in the 3,000 square foot space.
"I don't really need to be the owner of anything, I prefer being the developer," Madden said of who will own the urban market.
There is space for 18 to 20 shops, Madden said. "Plus we've had maybe some talks of maybe a microbrewery in one end over here," he said, motioning to the west end of the hall.
"We'll try to get the locals in to see how many entrepreneurs are interested in coming into the area and see what we can do to redevelop the downtown," Madden said of the retail space he's building.
- Founders Hall should be provincial museum: Bevan-Baker
- Two market proposals for Founders Hall rejected prior to listing
A handful of current tenants including an architecture firm, a visitor information centre and a lobster roll shop will remain in Founders Hall for now, Madden said.
The well-known Chip Shack will also remain for a final summer on the property, with owner Caron Prins being offered space inside the redeveloped shops.
"It's all good!" Prins commented Wednesday.
A boardwalk will surround the hall, and open space between the building and Water Street, which is grass in summer and flooded for ice skating in winter, will remain undeveloped for now but "will be developed in the future, there's no doubt about that," Madden said.
Madden also plans an atrium — a glass-ceilinged courtyard — between the Founders Shops and the micro-condos.
"That will become a gathering place," for cruise ship passengers and locals, Madden said.
"We want people to want to come down, sit down, have a coffee, stroll to the market," Madden said. "It needs to be nine to 12 months of the year — not just a few days a week."
'Better than a dorm'
Micro Boutique Living built its first micro lofts in 2011 in Antigonish, N.S., leasing them all so quickly it decided to build another 30 units the following year. It built a 60-unit building in Wolfville, N.S., leasing them all before it opened in August 2014.
Micro Boutique Living has also started construction on a 124-suite development in St. John's, NL.
"In all university towns, they like the micro-boutique living," said Madden. "It gives them their own quality of space, better than a dorm."
And with a shortage of hotel rooms downtown, Madden said the condos will make ideal short-term summer rentals.
Galea's current Micro Boutique Living units in other towns rent from $99 per night to $625 a month for a year-long lease, with no utilities.
"It's a marvellous project, I think it's super exciting," Galea said. "It's a whole new way of providing housing in the downtown core of the city, we're kind of one of the pioneers in the area."
"We believe there's a need for good, high-end but affordable housing," he added.
The apartments include studio, one- and two-bedroom units, and come equipped with custom-built furniture designed to fit the compact space comfortably, Galea said.
'Only need the support of the residents'
"I've had some discussion with the planning department, and I've had nothing but positive reaction not only from city hall, but also the provincial government, CADC, ACOA, and from the Port Authority. Now I only need the support of the residents," Madden smiled.
He hasn't yet determined lease rates for the retail space.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | P.E.I.'s economic advisory councils looking for members
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | AG questions whether temporary fish plant workers reflect 'real labour shortages'