Finally demolished, the former trade school site in Summerside set for new development

Described by the mayor as an "eyesore," the former trade school building in Summerside has been leveled and is nearly ready to be developed into a space the mayor and developer vow will be worth the wait.

New development is set to include rent-to-own housing, affordable rentals, health centre and fire hall

The old Holland College building in Summerside is demolished, but developer Tim Banks says crews are still working to 'tidy up' the site before construction begins on new projects. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Described by the mayor as an "eyesore," the former trade school building in Summerside has been levelled and is nearly ready to be developed into a space the mayor and developer vow will be worth the wait.

"There's still some tidying up to do on the site, but it's pretty exciting," said Tim Banks, the CEO of APM Group, the developer involved in the project.

The property, located on a parcel of land between Granville Street, Ryan Street and Arnett Avenue was formerly owned by Holland College and first purchased by APM in 2008. A news story at the time said the campus had been vacant for four years. Since then APM has developed other sites around the building, like a strip mall and three other buildings. 

"I grew up in Summerside, and I wanted to invest there, and I have invested. But it was like something hanging over you … we just couldn't get rid of this building."

In an interview with CBC on Thursday, Banks said APM has partnered with the non-profit group Kings Square Housing Corporation to build nearly 50 affordable housing units.

Tim Banks, the CEO of APM group, says he is finalizing plans for affordable housing, rent-to-own housing, and market-priced housing at the old Holland College location in Summerside, P.E.I. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

He said the plan is still being fine-tuned, but the cost of the units will be adjusted to be 30 per cent of the occupant's income.

The plan currently includes an additional two dozen "rent-to-own" units, where tenants will be able to pay into the mortgage to eventually own their space.

"We're sort of creating a new venture here. I'm excited about it," he said.

Banks said there will also be some rental units built as part of the project that will be rented out at market value. 

Banks said the housing development is slated to cost about $28 million. He said they are planning for construction to be finished in the spring of 2024.

"It's our goal to go into the ground this fall," he said. "I think in a few years when people go past the site, they'll forgive us for what took place there."

In addition to housing, the province plans to put a $23-million health-care facility on the site. The City of Summerside is also planning on putting a new fire hall on the parcel of land next to the cinema.

Banks said the tendering process is underway now for those projects.

Delays in demolition

"It's down now. The building is gone. The eyesore is gone," said Mayor Basil Stewart, who added that there is currently $200 million in development happening in the municipality.

Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart says his municipality has many ongoing projects. He estimates that there is about $200 million in development happening right now. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

"You've got to be patient," said Stewart. "At the end of the day, it is going to be worth it."

Banks and Stewart said there were delays in demolishing the old building, largely due to environmental concerns about asbestos on the site.

Banks estimates the demolition was about four or five months behind schedule, and as a result, the health centre is about six to eight months behind.


Kate McKenna is a journalist with CBC News.