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St. John's takes another step for housing development at former I.J. Samson school site

Demolition work has now begun on the former I.J. Samson Junior High School on the corner of Bennett Avenue and Beaumont Street in the west-end of St. John’s. A new housing development is planned for the area.
Demolition work has now begun on the former I.J. Samson Junior High School on the corner of Bennett Avenue and Beaumont Street in the west-end of St. John’s. A new housing development is planned for the area.

The planned development at the site of the former I.J. Samson Junior High School moved another step forward recently, with a public meeting city councilors describe as a good and valuable exchange with residents in the area.

Concept art, showing the proposed housing for the corner of Bennett Avenue and Beaumont Street. The corner is currently home to the former I.J. Samson Junior High, vacant since 2011.

The proposal put forward is to transform the site off Bennett Avenue into residential lots, including 20 townhouses and another 58 units (in nine buildings) to be marketed as senior’s apartments. The former school at the location has been vacant since 2011.

A public meeting was held on July 13 at city hall in St. John’s, with 11 people in attendance.

Questions were asked of proponent leads Bill Clarke and Ryan Clarke, as well as the city’s chief municipal planner, legislative assistant, ward councilor Coun. Jonathan Galgay and deputy mayor Ron Ellsworth, as recorded in the minutes.

On Monday night, at the scheduled city council meeting, Galgay reported in.

“It’s an exceptional plan and all the issues which were raised from residents were very good questions and I was pleased we were able to answer them,” he said, mentioning questions on potential traffic and the water supply system as examples, with the expectation — based on staff evaluation — the development meet all requirements.

“Again I encourage residents who have concerns during this process to give us a call,” he said.

There are still steps in the development process. There is a change required to the municipal plan to allow for the project and the change will have to go through the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs. There be a public, commissioner’s hearing. And the project will, going forward, also come back around to the city council for vote.

Coun. Tom Hann applauded the general concept Monday, specifically for including housing targeted to seniors. “Every chance I get to talk about seniors in this city I try. Because — I use the word tsunami, because that’s what’s going to hit us if we are not preparing enough to look after seniors, not only in this city but in this province,” he said.

In terms of selling only to seniors, the question was posed: can housing be specifically identified for seniors. Deputy mayor Ron Ellsworth said while any age discrimination is not permitted, properties can be designed and marketed with specific age groups in mind as potential residents.

In terms of pricing, the potential pricing under discussion to date has been $299,000 to $339,000 for the townhouses and $229,000 to $259,000 for the senior’s apartments.

 

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

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