Feature

Downtown Centre Helps Bring Back Main Street in Moncton

The downtown centre under construction in Moncton. Image: Jennifer Gouchie.

MONCTON – The downtown centre under construction is already helping to fill empty storefronts and office space along Main Street, and has been a catalyst for new construction in the city’s downtown core as a whole, says a city economic development official and local entrepreneurs.

From small boutiques to multi-million dollar construction projects, downtown Moncton is more vibrant than ever, and is still very much in growth mode. City of Moncton Economic Development Officer Luc Babineau says more than $35-million in building permits were issued for the downtown during the first half of 2017 alone.

“Normally, that figure is $8-20 Million over a 12-month period,’’ says Babineau. “We’re seeing a lot of new projects and retail space being filled which is causing a lot of excitement.’’

Boutiques like Stile, Elle Mio and Intuition are taking up vacant commercial space along Main Street and large projects like Tannery Place and FiveFive Queen are helping to build momentum as more and more businesses open, expand, renovate or relocate to the downtown core.

The downtown centre is stirring up a lot of new development,’’ Babineau says. “Now, the push is on to get more residential development downtown through new construction or the renovation of existing apartment buildings.’’

Located at The Junction Urban Village, Tannery Place is an 11-acre mixed-use development project strategically located at the corner of Vaughan Harvey Boulevard and Main Street, adjacent to the new centre. The site will be developed as a mixed-use urban village that will include office and retail space, restaurants, luxury apartments and a 100-room Hilton Hotel.

Meanwhile, Platinum Realty CEO and FiveFive Queen Developer Bill Hennessey says the official announcement of the downtown centre certainly played a role in the decision to move ahead with the construction of the mega-project, the first of its kind in New Brunswick.

The multi-million dollar project will consist of an eight-storey condominium, as well as a 75-unit lifestyle boutique hotel The Wesley and 160-seat The Gahan House Restaurant and Brewery located on the main level of the hotel. Construction is expected to be complete by next fall.

It’s certainly made our decision easier and gave us the extra confidence we needed as developers to move ahead,’’ says Hennessey.

But it was also an added incentive for Kevin Murphy of Murphy Hospitality Group in Prince Edward Island to bring his very successful Gahan House brand to Moncton and create a quality boutique hotel in the heart of the city.

Murphy has said that the renewed focus on the downtown – including the building of the new multi-use sports and entertainment centre and increased traffic that comes with – made it the right time for his group to commit to the project.

DPL set its sight on Main Street two years ago

DPL CEO Marc Albert moved his IT business to 700 Main Street two years ago after rumors first started circulating regarding of a proposed downtown centre. With offices in Rothesay and Shediac, he was looking for a more vibrant community in which to grow his business and set his sights on downtown Moncton.

He looked at several different locations before choosing 700 Main Street which is considered some of the nicest office space in downtown Moncton.

“I wanted to be somewhere vibrant and the construction of the downtown centre gave us a lot of confidence in our move. It is a very good indicator of future growth.’’

Jennifer Gouchie-Terris is a freelance journalist in the Greater Moncton area. Her journalism career dates back to the mid-1980s when she joined the editorial staff of her family-owned newspaper business Cumberland Publishing Ltd. in Amherst, Nova Scotia.