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Home: Canadian Construction News: Construction in St. John's Defies Slow Economy

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Construction in St. John's Defies Slow Economy

Written by; Chad Simco / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Sun Sep 13 2009


The natural harbour along Water Street in St. John's, Newfoundland has hosted ships for half a millennium, but now the other side of Water Street is experiencing a construction boom in million dollar condos overlooking the water's edge.

The reason? Geologists recently discovered 2 billion barrels of accessible oil off the Newfoundland coast.

Housing prices may have nose-dived in the rest of North America, but in St. John's, they've gone up by nearly 25% in the first half of 2009 over the first half of 2008.

The most princely sums are for units in The Narrows, a four-storey building on Water Street where condos can go for up to $1.3 million.

The Narrows gets its name from the eponymous gap in the Atlantic's shore that opens onto St. John's Harbour. It is a neighbour to The Battery, a neighbourhood of colorful small houses dotting the steep slopes of Signal Hill, made famous by Guglielmo Marconi's receipt of the first trans-Atlantic radio communication.

There are other new construction projects in downtown St. John's, too. The Narrows, with a traditional red brick facade in keeping with other buildings along the waterfront, is being constructed by BAE-Newplan Group Ltd. after having been designed by New York City architects Delano & Aldrich, who have designed other structures in the area nearly 100 years ago. One was the four-storey hospice King George V, England's Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, which has housed fishermen primarily from Portugal who stay temporarily in St. John's.

In recent years, however, it fell into disrepair, until Guido Del Rizzo, Leo Power, and Rex Anthony bought the building and spent $10 million to refurbish it and create 12 condominium suites priced from $900,000 to $1.2 million. Two new happy owners are NHL players, Michael Ryder of the Boston Bruins and Adam Pardy of the Calgary Flames.

Power recently stated, that they were able to save the stairway banisters and significant amounts of wood trim during the renovation. "The King George V is again one of the classiest buildings on the east coast," he said.

St. John's city council gave unanimous approval last May for a 120+ unit hotel-condominium project by Nolan Hall Real Estate on Temperance St. next to the historic Battery neighbourhood.

Most units will be 445 square foot units with five star finishes that sell for $560 per square foot, or just under a quarter million dollars a piece. The first phase units mostly went to investors from Britain and Ireland and Newfoundland ex-pats who work on oil fields in Qatar. Many high end units will be rented to business executives stationed temporarily in St. John's.


Copyright: 2009

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