CBRM council negotiating with two developers on Sydney waterfront project

·2 min read
Cape Breton Regional Municipality is trying to encourage residential and commercial development on land between the Holiday Inn (left) and the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (right), including the marina. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
Cape Breton Regional Municipality is trying to encourage residential and commercial development on land between the Holiday Inn (left) and the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (right), including the marina. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillors are negotiating with two developers to see which one will get to build on Sydney's downtown waterfront.

CBRM has been trying to encourage residential and commercial growth on the property surrounding the marina, which used to be the home of the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club until it burned down in 2013.

Since a call for expressions of interest closed in February, council has been meeting behind closed doors for due diligence before awarding a contract, said Mayor Amanda McDougall.

"So understanding what the proposals entail, getting further information on them and then very soon what we will see is a session of council where decisions can be made on what will be the successful proposal and how to move forward with it," she said.

The mayor said because discussions with developers could result in a contract being awarded, she can't reveal whether either of the developers looking at Sydney's waterfront are local companies due to non-disclosure rules.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

There is no timetable for when a decision will be made or when development could start, she said.

"We're very much of the mindset ... of doing this right," McDougall said.

"So not limiting ourselves to a finite timeline, but making sure that we can give ourselves some flexibility to go back and forth and make sure we have all of the information required from the proposals and the proponents before decisions can get made."

The deal will be made public before council votes on it, she said.

The call for expressions of interest asks private companies to develop the municipality's waterfront property that lies between the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion and the Holiday Inn.

Until this year, Marty Chernin's Harbour Royale Developments was the only company interested in developing the waterfront, but council let a deal with Chernin lapse, in part because the deal included a new library that council deemed too expensive.

The municipality then issued a call for expressions of interest from developers in December.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

By February, CBRM received three bids, which Paul Burt, the municipality's manager of building, planning and licensing laws, said at the time was indicative of a renewed interest in downtown sparked by the construction of the new NSCC Marconi campus buildings.

However, McDougall said staff examined all three bids and found only two met the requirements of the call for expressions of interest.

Chernin already has municipal approval to build a residential and commercial building on another waterfront lot which is surrounded by the land that is the subject of the two bids. However, Chernin has vowed to stop working on developments in CBRM and told CBC News he is not one of the new bidders.

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