New building code adopted by Saint John in hopes of spurring growth

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New building code adopted by Saint John in hopes of spurring growth

Saint John is adopting the most recent standards of the National Building Code, allowing taller structures to go up with cheaper materials, with the hopes of attracting projects and people to the uptown core.

"What it does is it allows developers that are looking at building new buildings the ability to add a couple more floors," said Keith Brideau of Historica Developments, one of the many developers that came out for the announcement.

The 2015 National Building Code allows six-storey wood-frame structures to be built uptown. Wood-framed structures were previously limited to four storeys under the previous version of the National Building Code from 2010.

"You pretty much get another 50 per cent of the density and you can also build out of wood, which is about 15 to 20 per cent cheaper than concrete," Brideau said. "It allows developers to get  better returns on their investment."

Request for proposals 

The city also issued a request for proposals Thursday for "potential development of the City-owned property at the intersection of Canterbury and Princess Streets."

The requests are due May 5.

While not a "game changer," Brideau said the announcement was a big step in the right direction and he has his eyes on a few lots uptown, including the one on Canterbury and Princess.

"It's a pretty critical, pretty key lot that I think is going to get a lot attention over the next few days and the next few weeks," he said. "Me in particular. I'm going to look at it very closely."

"This definitely makes Saint John a more attractive place to invest, without a doubt," Brideau said.

1st in Atlantic Canada

Saint John is the first city in Atlantic Canada to adopt the 2015 building code and the mayor hopes the early adoption will attract new projects and give the city a competitive edge.

"Whenever you can get first out of the gate, I think it's good news," he said.

With the cheaper materials and allowing for a higher density, he hopes the more affordable buildings will lower rents.   

Although not limited to the uptown core, Darling said that region was a major focus when deciding to adopt the code. He said this goes toward his goal of attracting new families and young people to live there.

"I think the characteristics of uptown living and building uptown where the lots are tighter and a bit smaller, building next to a building, it's a bit more difficult," he said.

"So that's where six-storey wood-[frames are] going to yield some results for us."  

Darling said people could see the first six-storey wooden frame structure going up in 2017.