City of St. John’s hears pitch for $5-billion, 20-year, multi-use development
Dennis O’Keefe — File photo
There is no formal application in yet, but St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe says city council was recently briefed on a proposed $5-billion development for the city’s west end.
Two weeks ago, a developer made a presentation to council for a 20-year project with multiple phases on land “from behind the Southlands area right out to Cochrane Pond.”
O’Keefe mentioned the development at the Hebron public hearings in St. John’s Tuesday, but gave no details.
“I can’t reveal the developer, because we don’t have an application yet,” the mayor told The Telegram Thursday.
He said the development is still in the conceptual phase.
“It’s a 20-year concept plan. The developers are hoping they can begin the first phase of that plan in 2012, and that will ... have a value of about $400 million,” O’Keefe said.
That phase is expected to take about five years to complete.
“The first phase, I think, will start with a retail phase,” O’Keefe said, but noted some other land uses may also be included.
He acknowledged some of the development could be above the 190 contour — an elevation that at this point in time can’t be developed until the provincial government permits it.
The city has already asked the government to make the necessary legislative change.
The mayor said the overall development will have multiple land uses, even medical facilities.
“It will take in retail, it will take in commercial, it will take in residential in will take in institutional and recreational,” he said of the concept development. “So it will actually be a development that would parallel the size of the town of Gander.”
O’Keefe was limited in what else he could say without the proposal on paper.
“But I can tell you it’s a very exciting concept, it’s going to have terrific economic value for the city, (the region) and the province in terms (of) employment, in terms of revenues for the province and the city. Like I said it’s almost like a town within the city,” he said.
According to O’Keefe the reaction from the rest of council was very positive towards the concept and first phase.
He said once a formal application has been received, the project would have to go through the regular development process, which would include land use assesments, environmental studies and public meetings.
O’Keefe said it also may include zoning changes.
If all goes to plan, O’Keefe said the developer is hoping to start construction this spring.
“As I mentioned, I know they’re hoping to get a start, target date in March or April so if that’s going to happen we’re going to have to get an application for that first phase pretty soon,” he said.
O’Keefe said the developer wanted to fully brief council on its concept because it wanted the city to be made aware “of the extensiveness of the project over the long term.”
“It’s very exciting, I have to say,” concluded the mayor.