HARBOUR GRACE, N.L.
Some big things are happening in Harbour Grace, and Mayor Don Coombs has high hopes for what could come of it.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, it was announced that the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Harbour Grace – an historic building with a lifespan dating back hundreds of years – would be getting a major overhaul that, eventually, would turn it from an empty building along Water Street into a new business.
This includes a brewery, beer garden, spa and hotel. This major change in plans for the structure comes following the recent purchase of the building, made by Brenda O’Reilly and Craig Flynn, who also own O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and Yellowbelly Brewery in St. John’s.
While this news was quick to spread, Coombs is particularly excited about the upcoming business and what it could mean for the future of Harbour Grace.
“This is a very, very exciting time for the Town of Harbour Grace,” the mayor told The Compass. “I think it’s one of the best things to happen to the town, I really do. I’ve met with the investors, and I can tell how committed they are to this project.
“It’s exciting times to live in Harbour Grace, and I’ve said that a lot ever since this announcement. These people are committed, they’ve got their homework done, and I think there are good things coming to Harbour Grace. Not only Harbour Grace, but the entire region, actually.”
Business in Harbour Grace took a particular hit in May of 2018 when Powell’s Supermarket decided to close its doors, putting an end to one of the town’s more prolific businesses. In the fall of 2014, the town also lost a major employer when the Terra Nova Shoes factory was closed for good.
Now, however, Coombs sees this new upcoming business as a chance to change people’s opinions on the business sector in Harbour Grace, calling the new brewery and hotel a lifeline for the community.
“It throws us a lifeline, I think,” he said of the project. “When Powell’s closed, it definitely hurt. It was a loss to the town, no doubt. I think with this announcement, paired with the commitment I see from these investors, this is going to open the doors to Harbour Grace for other businesses to come to the town.
“Business attracts business, and these people are proven in their previous business endeavours, so I’m sure this is going to be a success.”
As for the reception from the town, Coombs says residents of Harbour Grace have been nothing short of supportive of the decision, including daily churchgoers, some of whom he said have expressed delight in seeing the building be put to good use after being left empty for the last four years.
Not only did he see it as something of a saviour for the town, Coombs anticipates plenty of employment opportunities to arise from this project for people within the region.
“Major, major employment in the area, both seasonal and full-time,” the mayor noted. “They’ve got their plans set up and are hoping to start shortly on the work the building needs, so that’s something that people in the area can be particularly excited about as well – there are jobs coming to the community, and a lot of them.
“Council is looking forward to working with them, whatever it takes to bring this to reality. The only thing is that we can’t get it done quick enough. It’s going to be a great asset for this town.”