‘The size of the town of Gander’

Dave Bartlett
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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.


Geographic location: Gander, Southlands, Hebron

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Recent comments

  • J Austin
    November 29, 2011 - 18:44

    What industry would be arriving here now that couldn't have come here before ? Would it require part of the 1000MW of green power that will be delivered to nearby Soldiers' Pond ? What industry is fanatically secretive and has recently built billion dollar developments in Kelowna, BC; Quincy WA; Maiden NC and lots of other places with cheap power and really good fiber optic connectivity? Now this is only a guess but a certain development in Keflavik is nearly full and there will be an unused 'branching unit' dropped just off shore from SinJohns next year. Odd too that 'Emerald Atlantis' has not been mentioned in the local press. The EA branching unit for Iceland is scheduled to be connectetd and the whole project will connect London to New York with the shortest latency and highest capacity on the North Atlantic. Today's Sesame Street is brought to you by the words data, center and container.

  • David
    November 25, 2011 - 12:45

    'World class'. Theres' no time to try to figure out what that means.....we've got this one-time-only chance before someone starts to count the money again, so get your backs into it! Statues and strip malls, baby....how many? Well, world class of course.

  • McLovin
    November 25, 2011 - 12:28

    Can our current water supply accomodate a development of such magnitude?

    • Steve
      November 25, 2011 - 13:25

      By the looks of things "Doc" wants to build whatever it is on our future water supply.

    • Jeffrey
      November 26, 2011 - 06:36

      Of course our water supply will handle it. Sure what odds? It's only an extra couple of hundred people out pressure washing their driveway on a crisp autumn morning.

  • John
    November 25, 2011 - 12:20

    I guess this is the start of the questionable land acquisitions that have been made in the past 10 years or so?

  • Edmund
    November 25, 2011 - 10:49

    Well here goes our blabbermouth mayor "Doc" (a self made name, I guess he thinks it sounds cool) trying to take control of this announcement (shows how nervous he is trying to do his job) instead of leaving it to the developer to make the announcement. Typical school teacher, no business experience, make an announcement attitude. He should keep his comments to himself until such applications are received and the developer has agreed to making such announcements. Well Dennis, enough of this leaving the residents of the city in the lerch wondering what is going on. Why didn't you complete your speculation and suggest that the developer who owns everything between Southlands (Glendenning Golf Course) to Cochran Rond and has the deep pockets to develop such a project is Danny Williams. So there Doc, see what you started. If you put as much of your idle time into running what you have and be more prepared for snow removal, pot holes and a litany of other screw ups since you have been mayor, instead of trying to hob nob it with upper class, that we could appreciate. So start making some announcements and do something for things you have control of, you are out of your league when it comes to the BIG stuff.

  • BrianP
    November 25, 2011 - 10:38

    St. John's is making the same mistake that other growing cities have - urban sprawl. We need to "grow up" before we grow out.

  • No to Urban Sprawl - build upwards
    November 25, 2011 - 10:22

    If only the St. John's council had testicular fortitude to approve developments that would get more people living closer to the metro region instead of 20-30 minute drives outside of it. Imagine if 10-20 storey condo and apartment buildings had been constructed which would have allowed working professionals to live downtown and be a short walk from work. Oh well...enjoy the soon to be packed TCH on the morning and afternoon commutes outside of the metro region, not to mention the stretched thin snow clearing crew, etc., etc.

  • HerpDerp
    November 25, 2011 - 10:11

    Yes, Mt. Pearl can have Southlands once St. John's puts tollbooths on every road going in and out of the Pearl. Obviously they don't need anything from St. John's.

    • I have an idea
      November 25, 2011 - 11:38

      You think Mount Pearl is the only suburb in the world that feeds off a metro city??? Look at: Richmond - Vancouver, St. Albert-Edmonton, Laval-Montreal, Brampton - Toronto, Mississaugo-Toronto, Brooklyn-New York City. If a population of 30,000 has your knickers in a bunch then you have too time on your hands.

  • Townie
    November 25, 2011 - 09:34

    Ha Ha Ha In twenty years St. John's is going to look like the outports tweny years ago. With houses for sale at $10,000 a pop. Where do they think the jobs are going to be Oil Platforms that are closing, Vale where the plant is built and will be run by fifty staff. Fishing where the geniuses want ten guys in a factory trawler to catch the fish and sell them to China for processing or is everyone going to Alberta for three weeks and come back here for their three weeks off.

  • esron
    November 25, 2011 - 08:48

    Yay... more sprawl! Yay,.. less tax base per square kilometer!! Yay.. skyrocketing service costs ontop of dwindling tax base!! Very exciting! I can't wait. I feel this quote is filling...fitting. ____________________________ [Season 7.4 - Family Guy] Stewie: Well, Rupert, we're out of food, diapers, and just about everything else. Which means I've got to get a job. Otherwise, we'll be in worse shape than Morbidly-Obese Albert. [cut to Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids; Albert is morbidly obese and sitting in the back of a pickup truck] Russell: Hey, Morbidly-Obese Albert. We brought you some chocolates. Albert: Oh, I can't eat those chocolates, on account'a my diabetes. 'Member they had to take my foot? [the Cosby Kids see that he has one less foot] Russell: Look on the bright side. Now you get your shoes half-price. [Albert laughs] Albert: A'ight. Maybe I'll have one. [he eats a chocolate] _____________________________ St. John's = Fat Albert Suburban development = chocolate Future of city = foot.

  • Tony
    November 25, 2011 - 08:20

    Bring it on....

  • Frank M
    November 25, 2011 - 08:12

    Two items of thought that struck me as wrong with the Mayor's comments: first, the private meetings with developers is a concern, but secondly, if their is no application, why is the Mayor reporting conjecture or rumor to a panel on our economic future? Both of these things are just wrong and no one can argue they are in the public interest when they are nothing but unconfirmable rumor.

  • dontgetmestarted
    November 25, 2011 - 08:00

    Look out by's they're closing down the outports

  • Don
    November 25, 2011 - 06:16

    So, will you (O'Keefe) now please turn over Southlands to Mt. Pearl so that we, the residents , can get decent service which we cannot get from St. John's.

  • Steve
    November 25, 2011 - 06:15

    There's a lot more heritage “from behind the Southlands area right out to Cochrane Pond” than there is downtown St. John's.