Summerside seeks to redevelop major downtown block

Summerside, P.E.I., is looking for developers to redevelop what it calls its core block downtown.

Historic buildings were demolished last fall

'We really look forward to seeing what initiatives come forward,' says Summerside Coun. Brian McFeely. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Summerside, P.E.I., is looking for developers to redevelop what it calls its core block downtown.

The property in question is the corner of Water and Summer streets, which the city purchased last year and demolished, at a total cost of about $1.2 million. Four buildings came down: the former Royal Bank, Crockett's Jewelry, the former Cooke Insurance building and The Regent, which was once a movie theatre but more recently a bar and restaurant. 

Some had been vacant for more than a decade and city officials described them as unsightly and dangerous. 

"The intent here is to make the best commercial and residential use of the property, advance the goals of the city around the redevelopment of downtown," said Summerside Coun. Brian McFeely, who chairs the city's economic development committee.

"The philosophy here is that the more people you have in the downtown area living and working, that will spawn private business interest, people will begin to develop the services people need in the downtown core," he said. 

The sky's the limit around the imagination and innovation that could happen.— Brian McFeely

The city has issued a request for proposals, which are due by the end of May.   

The city hopes to recoup its investment in the properties if and when a private developer decides to buy. 

'Transformative for the downtown'

What would the city like to see there?

The former Royal Bank, left, Crockett's Jewelry, right, and two buildings including the Regent up Summer Street were demolished last October. (Timothy Pennell/CBC)

Ideally on the first floor there would be commercial space, with apartments on the upper floors, McFeely said. 

"We're really encouraging developers to be innovative, and you know sort of the sky's the limit around the imagination and innovation that could happen," he said. The city would also like to see the project be environmentally friendly and sustainable. 

Comments from residents have been positive since the buildings were demolished, McFeely said, adding he thinks people are looking forward to seeing something new. 

"We think it's a great opportunity and I really believe it will be transformative for the downtown core," he said.

"If we can get full value out of this for the taxpayers of Summerside, and create something that's exciting down there, it will spawn additional investment in the downtown core."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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