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Rezoning OK’d for former I.J. Samson school

Plans for a possible redevelopment of the former I.J. Samson Junior High School. The townhouses and potential seniors condos concept was enough for council to approve rezoning of the property. The plans are set to go to a public meeting, with further information to be announced.
Plans for a possible redevelopment of the former I.J. Samson Junior High School. The townhouses and potential seniors condos concept was enough for council to approve rezoning of the property. The plans are set to go to a public meeting, with further information to be announced.

A plan for making use of the shuttered I.J. Samson Junior High School property in St. John’s has passed an early hurdle, with city council approving an application to rezone.

The plan as it stands is to tear down the old school and put up 20 townhouses along Beaumont Street and Bennett Avenue, with remaining space off Bennett Avenue designated for an additional condo development.

“The residents are extremely pleased, those who have been following it through social media,” said Coun. Jonathan Galgay, councillor for the ward, speaking with reporters following Monday evening’s city council meeting.

The city’s planning and development committee heard from developer Bill Clarke on the project before considering the application on May 31. The committee recommended rezoning, and council has voted in favour.

The next step for the project in terms of required approvals will be a public meeting where residents will be able to ask questions and offer their thoughts. Information from there will go, with the proposal, back to a regular council meeting for consideration of project approval. The project needs an amendment to the municipal plan, plus a commissioner’s hearing, before it can go ahead.

Galgay said he’s already been hearing from people in the area and he is personally planning to vote in favour of the project, barring any major issues arising.

“It usually takes about six to eight months to be able to conduct this type of a process, but I have a sense that we’re going to receive overwhelming support from the neighbourhood based on what I’m hearing so far,” he said.

The former school building has been vacant since 2011. In 2015, it became the centerpiece of attacks from the provincial NDP on the campaigning Liberals, after the Liberals announced plans to sell unused government real estate assets to increase revenue.

The school property was valued at about $2 million and sold, as the CBC reported, to Metro Environmental Services for $189,000. The building required remediation ahead of planned deconstruction work.

It was recommended to council consideration be given to a loss of the open space adjacent to the school building. Galgay suggested anything gained from demand on the developer go toward the ongoing redevelopment of Victoria Park.

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