Saint John is seeing unprecedented levels of investment as people and investors flock to the Uptown core.
The Uptown – what other places tend to call downtown – has seen dozens of new restaurants, stores, art galleries and more open in recent years. If you haven’t visited the city in a while, you might think you’ve wandered into Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood with Saint John’s historic brick buildings and lively mix of restaurants, retail and residential spaces.
The Uptown neighbourhood’s population surged 15 per cent from 2011 to 2016 as people moved to the city or left the quiet of the suburbs for the energy of the Uptown.
Keith Brideau saw the opportunities in the Uptown before many others. As the president and CEO of Saint John-based Historica Developments, Brideau redeveloped 17 buildings in the Uptown core, turning underused upper stories into trendy loft apartments and providing new spaces for upscale retail stores and restaurants.
“Our mission is to help create the best, most-livable neighbourhood in Atlantic Canada,” says Brideau. “There are a lot of great opportunities here in Saint John. We’ve helped swing the pendulum toward living in the Uptown core, but there is still a lot of potential remaining.”
He’s setting his sights on commercial space with his biggest project yet. Brideau and a partner, Dr. David Elias, recently announced they had closed a deal to acquire the building that houses Saint John City Hall and a number of other tenants. The 16-storey, 180,000-square-foot building will be transformed, offering more efficient and welcoming space for city offices and freeing up new space for commercial tenants.
“The City of Saint John and the Develop Saint John team were instrumental in helping get this deal done,” says Brideau. “Thanks to their support, there will be 80,000 square feet of space available in a prime location in what will be one of the best buildings in New Brunswick.”
Brideau is not alone in his bullish take on the investment opportunities in Saint John. Irving Oil’s impressively designed new corporate headquarters is nearing completion and will house 1,000 employees in the Uptown.
Cooke Aquaculture is redeveloping a historic synagogue as part of its expanded corporate presence in Saint John, the home base for the rapidly growing international seafood company. And a Toronto investment company just acquired two large buildings in the Uptown with plans for redevelopment.
“Investors go where people want to be, and people want to be in Uptown Saint John,” says Develop Saint John CEO Steve Carson. “We are seeing sustained investment in the Uptown. New and improved office space, more retail and restaurant choices and more people wanting to live life Uptown are transforming the city. The future looks bright.”
This story is sponsored by Develop Saint John.