C.B.S. building Gateway for business

Dave Bartlett
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Right now it looks more like a rocky moonscape with a few stands of evergreens.

But the Conception Bay South town council hopes within five years, the 100-acre Gateway business park will be full of box stores, strip malls and other businesses.

The town officially opened its long awaited commercial district at the top of Legion Road in Kelligrews  Tuesday.

“I’ve always believed in the philosophy (of) when you build it they will come,” Mayor Woodrow French told reporters after officially opening the park.

The town decided to develop the park on its own after negotiations with a developer fell through a few years back.

“We started off with a developer, and we worked with that developer, (but) as a result of the times and other things beyond our control the developer couldn’t put the deal together to the satisfaction of themselves and to the town,” French told a packed room overlooking the rink at the Robert French Memorial Arena, just a stone’s throw from where the Gateway will  take shape.

The park’s first tenant, Kent building supplies, will begin construction of its box store this spring.

The park will cost C.B.S. an estimated $7.2 million to develop, which includes water and sewer upgrades that French said had to be done anyway. The town’s goal is to recoup that money within five years through the sale of commercial lots, and from new business taxes paid by the park’s future occupants.

French said taxes won’t be raised to complete the development.

He told reporters that both small, local businesses and large national developers have already expressed an interest in the park.

“This is an area where these stores will want to locate,” said the mayor.

Site work and service installation is underway and ahead of schedule due to a mild fall, according to French.

And the interest in the Gateway is growing, though French wouldn’t get into specifics about who may set up shop.

He said the town’s been contacted by a Montreal company interested in setting up a strip of shops, and a number of auto parts retailers have also approached the town.

This weekend, French and two members of the town’s staff will travel to Whistler, B.C. to attend a development conference where the group will promote the park and look for potential tenants.

It will be the first in a series of marketing trips.

With 50,000 customers on the park’s doorstep, French isn’t concerned about selling the commercial space.

The Liberal MP for Avalon, Scott Andrews, called the Gateway a truly regional development.

“When you look at the bypasss road which is now (being built and) going into Holyrood, you would not believe how many people from St. Mary’s Bay and throughout Conception Bay Centre come to Conception Bay South to do business and to shop,” he said.

French said the opening of the park is a coming of age for the town, almost 30 years after it was formed by the amalgamation of nine smaller communities, including Foxtrap, Long Pond and Topsail.

“We’re growing so rapidly and we’re now getting people that are demanding services that are expected in a town of this size,” he said.

But French also said the Gateway won’t be a typical box-store enclave.

“It will be an unusual blending of recreational activities as well as the shopping experience,” French said, noting that the traditional uses of the land — including hiking and farming — will be incorporated into the development.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Conception Bay South town council

Geographic location: Legion Road, Kelligrews, Montreal Whistler Holyrood Foxtrap Long Pond

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Recent comments

  • Political watcher
    January 19, 2011 - 17:17

    When I think of Woody French it reminds me of a scene in a Simpson's episode: the scene begins with a shot of the day's newspaper and the headline reads "Mayor visits City" to make a point about Springfield's absentee Mayor. There are times throughout the years when I am sure it feels to Woody that he is "just visiting".

  • So much for my ATV rides
    January 19, 2011 - 13:05

    I live just off Legion Road and have seen accident after accident on the exit of the Bypass Road on Legion, sometimes more than one a day. Ive even seen police cars T-Boned in that intersection! I hope that the Town has included a traffic study in the devolopment of this area. I won't get into the fact that this devolopment will cut off my access to my atv riding trails which is the primary reason why I moved to CBS in the first place.

  • Stadium user
    January 19, 2011 - 12:20

    Still waiting on the announcement for the Second Ice Surface for CBS.

  • shirley
    January 19, 2011 - 11:50

    Any excuse for the Mayor to take a trip and naturally he has to take two other people with him. I'm glad I'm not living in CBS. This is certainly nothing to be proud about.

  • turry from town
    January 19, 2011 - 11:26

    Not so fast Don Lester,you will still have to drive to town to go to work.Who pays for the road repair in St.Johns to get you there.Not you!Can't wait for amalgamation of SJ,MP,CBS or tollgates.I will work there for free.

  • robroy
    January 19, 2011 - 09:38

    My concern is the traffic also. How many trips will the ambulances have to make up legion road?Or any other road in cbs for that matter. When the bypass road was designed it was designed for that to bypass the feeder roads were not drsigned for huge volumes of traffic. Another concern is the amount of money has the council cost the tax payers of CBS. The last time there were discussions about this type of development the town flattly refused to invest any money to help the development move on Now they decided to go to the development alone and spend the money. If the return is not fast enough watch my taxes go up up up.Side walks on both sides of the main road( a four lane highway) would be nice

  • Ryan
    January 19, 2011 - 09:36

    Looks about as good as Stavanger Drive or Kelsey Drive... which is not very good at all.

  • Chris
    January 19, 2011 - 09:23

    Quoting the story...Right now it looks more like a rocky moonscape with a few stands of evergreens....sounds a lot like Paradise.

  • meincbn
    January 19, 2011 - 09:18

    Great move by the town of Conception Bay South. It will move the tax burden away from the residential property assessments. It's too bad our town council in Bay Roberts cannot remove their heads from their collective butts and follow a similar path. They've been talking about it for years, but thats it, all talk, nothing done, but then again, what can you expect when the so called buisness development personel have no business experience and there are no business experienced people on council etc. They are like little kids with their noses pushed against a window, wanting to be a part of something but haven't a clue about how to go about accomplising it.

  • dave
    January 19, 2011 - 09:09

    Where's all this talk about the bypass road going to Holyrood? When it's finished it's still going to be a long ways from Holyrood.

  • Don
    January 19, 2011 - 09:02

    The town councils of Bay Roberts and Conception Bay South are both now in the land assembly and real estate development business. Why? Bay Roberts acquired 122 acres of cheap Crown Land. The article does not say how CBS acquired the 100 acres of land. Was it Crown Land or did CBS buy it or expropriate it from private owners? This is a very troubling trend. Is this initiative being promoted by the Government of Newfoundland? If every major town in Newfoundland and Labrador decides to get into the land development business that will put private land developers out of business and will put private land owners in jeopardy of having their land expropriated. If a town council decided that you have a very desirable parcel of land that they want to develop, the town can acquire it from you by purchase. The town will not pay you what a private buyer would. If you do not accept the town's offer, the town can expropriate your land. If expropriation is doesn't work, the town can raise your property taxes to levels which you can't pay and then seize your land for taxes owing. If that strategy doesn't work, the town can rezone your land as rural and refuse to allow you to develop your land. You will then be forced to sell your land to the town for a pittance. The town can then rezone the land back to commercial or residential and sell the lots and make a huge windfall profit on land it scammed from you. What if the development loses money? The town can simply raise taxes or have the Government of Newfoundland cover the cost of the losses. This municipal land development racket is a disaster waiting to happen. I would encourage all private developers, private land owners and the media to watch the municipalities in Newfoundland very closely. This is a slippery slope which could become mired in cost over runs, fraudulent expropriations, zoning scams, land assembly schemes and kickbacks! I am informed of another recent case where the town of Cupids obtained Government money and a license to occupy Crown Land for what it claimed was beach improvement, it was later discovered that the town was secretly planning to build a Marina around that beach property when the Mayor informed local land owners in a letter that the town wanted their land and would expropriate it for the Marina project! The town of Cupids is currently trying to buy or expropriate private land for the Marina project. If the Marina gets built with tax payer dollars, there is nothing to stop the town from selling or leasing the Marina to a private operator who will obtain expropriated land and a new Marina perhaps for $1. If the Marina goes ahead, local boat owners will likely be forced to pay high docking and other fees or move their boats out of the harbor where they have docked for decades. If the town of Cupids operates the Marina and it loses money, who pays the bill?

  • Political Watcher
    January 19, 2011 - 08:45

    Again, if the Town is paying C.B. Richard Ellis (Halifax based) to market and sell the site why is the Mayor and two staff travelling to Whistler? Wouldn't that ne the job of the firm hired to do so?

  • Anon
    January 19, 2011 - 07:49

    I'm not surprised to hear Scott Andrews make such a thick-headed statement. Nor with French. The roads can't handle this traffic volume. Legion road is about as wide as gower street with cars doing one and a half times the speed limit all the time. The roads surrounding it are already clogged and congested with only 2 lanes. There needs to be 4 lanes all the way to the holyrood border. They seem to forget that the bypass road is intended to be an expressway out of town and not an outlet for sunday drivers and shoppers from out of town having a looky-loo. The area at the moment was never used for hiking except for the fall months after the first frost. and the occasional camping trip or dog walker in the summer time. We need common sense on this issue before we screw up the traffic any more than it already is. Unfortunately, common sense is the rarest element in government.

    • wavy
      January 19, 2011 - 08:39

      I agree with every single word you've written ANON. I'm so sick of the free-flowing BS from Mayor French. He hasn't shown any concern for the increasing number of dangerous traffic issues and traffic volume in CBS and I don't expect him to change anytime soon. Legion Rd is a nightmare and can't safely handle the current volume of traffic let alone that of a major commercial hub. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. “I’ve always believed in the philosophy (of) when you build it they will come" says Mayor French, yet we still wait for a proper civic centre/ rec centre in CBS that would benefit the 100s of new families with young kids in the region. "A number of auto parts retailers have also approached the town"; yeah, 'cause that's what CBS needs, another auto parts stores. No doubt, there is tremendous opportunity here for the town and people of CBS. I just hope the current council doesn't FUBAR the project because there doesn't seem to be much thought put into the planning stage up to this point.

  • Don Lester
    January 19, 2011 - 07:41

    Great move on the part of the town. Soon, there will be many more retail box stores moving into the town which will serve, not only C.B.S. but also Conception Bay North and Conception Bay Central. Also St. Mary's Bay and the Placentia Bay area. No more having to drive to the extreme east of St. John's for shopping.

  • John
    January 19, 2011 - 07:15

    A few years back, a developer wanted CBS to pay for part of the infrastructure and they refused to. Now they are doing it on their own. Can't help but wonder if the developer at that time is today feeling very bitter and like he was used by the CBS council. Hopefully it will all come together in the end even though this park would be up and running in the council would have come onside back then.