These old buildings on New Gower Street are on the site of future expansion for the St. John’s Convention Centre. — File photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
The City of St. John’s will expropriate two properties on New Gower Street to make way for a planned expansion of the St. John’s Convention Centre.
The move was unanimously approved at council’s Monday night meeting.
According to a memo addressed to council from the city’s solicitor, Robert Bursey, negotiations with the owners of the properties have gone nowhere. There was no reason given.
The city is still required to pay the owners what is deemed to be fair market value for their land.
The addresses are 145 and 123-125 (one building) New Gower St.
Council also approved the purchase of a third property at 94 George St.
A deal was reached in that case; the city will pay $180,000 plus closing costs for the lot.
The city plans to use these properties to double the size of the existing St. John’s Convention Centre.
Construction of that project is expected to start sometime this fall and finish in 2016 and is expected to cost $45 million.
News of the expansion has been met warmly by the business community in the city, but the project has not been without controversy.
Some of the lots the city needs to acquire have tenants who will be evicted.
The city took some flak in April for that move, but has since announced that once it takes possession of the buildings it will help the renters find new homes.
Until then, they will deal with their current landlords.
Monday night’s expropriation orders will also leave The Jighouse homeless at some point.
The downtown Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. outlet is located at 123-125 New Gower St.
The Jighouse is geared towards tourists.
It emphasizes local products and promotes its “Screech-In” experiences.
The corporation leases its space from the building’s owners.
The NLC said in May it was deciding what would become of the location.
A representative told The Telegram at that time that if it does open a replacement location downtown it could rent retail space in the convention centre expansion.