Summerset Manor finally coming down in Summerside

On Friday the province issued a news release saying a contract for demolishing the former Summerset Manor in Summerside, P.E.I., has been awarded to AJL Contractors.

'Eyesore' to make way for potential development on prime land in city

Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said he's aware of developers who submitted proposals to redevelop the property. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Demolition has finally begun at the former Summerset Manor in Summerside. P.E.I.

On Friday the province issued a news release saying a contract for demolition had been awarded to AJL Contractors and that the demolition would open up "a prime piece of real estate in the heart of Summerside for potential development."

Earlier this year, the province issued the latest in a series of requests for proposals looking for a developer willing to convert the former manor into seniors housing — offering up to $2 million in federal funding for a company able to produce a minimum of 20 affordable-housing units in the space.

Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said he's aware developers submitted proposals to redevelop the property. He told city council back in 2016 there was a developer interested in buying the property.

"I really have no idea why the responses to the RFP didn't materialize into something that would see the building repurposed — I'm sure there are very good reasons why they didn't," Martin said.

"The fact that it's going to be a highly-developable piece of property owned by the province, large enough to provide lots of options around either seniors housing and/or affordable options or a combination of both, is exciting."

Building 'was not salvageable'

In Friday's media release Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Paula Biggar said the existing building "was not salvageable," but that the province is "still open to good ideas for development of the property."

The province says the demolition work will be completed by the end of October. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

A request from CBC News to Biggar's department for an interview with the minister did not receive a response.

Tenders to demolish the building were issued twice — first in May, three months after the RFP was issued to re-develop the building.

That initial tender was then cancelled by the province.

At the time, provincial spokesperson Vicki Tse told CBC News demolition plans were put on hold because "there was an interested party that approached government ... so we reviewed options to ensure due diligence and decided that the best choice is to move forward with [demolition]."

A tender for demolition was then reissued in July. The province said the work will be completed by the end of October.

Need for housing

Martin said there's a "huge" need for both seniors housing and affordable housing in his community.

"There's hundreds of people that are perhaps on a wait list, that would and could take advantage of affordable housing in our city. And that need's not going to go away, it's only going to grow," he said.

The town's acting CAO Gordon MacFarlane said the property, vacant since January 2013, has become an "eyesore" and also poses a safety hazard.​

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Kerry Campbell

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Kerry Campbell is the provincial affairs reporter for CBC P.E.I., covering politics and the provincial legislature.