Developer applies to salvage features from historic Saint John buildings

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Developer applies to salvage features from historic Saint John buildings

A developer of heritage buildings in Saint John is making an 11th-hour pitch to city council to be allowed to salvage architectural features from three historic houses before they are demolished.

The buildings, at 115 to 119 Union St., date from the 1860s and are to be removed to make way for a 40-unit mixed-income apartment building proposed by Saint John Non Profit Housing Inc. 

Three others, the so-called Jelly Bean buildings, were demolished earlier this month.

Jim Bezanson, a heritage conservationist architect, said he would prefer to see the buildings saved and reused but that appears unlikely.

He proposes to remove door and window trim, hardwood flooring, wainscoting and other features and turn them over to Habitat for Humanity to be sold.

"We should be looking to repurpose the difficult-to-find heritage components that are in the buildings," said Bezanson. 

"There's a cornucopia of materials in there that you simply cannot go to your local hardwood store and purchase, so they're irreplaceable resources."

Bezanson said the salvage project could work as a pilot to demonstrate there's an alternative to simply demolishing buildings and carting everything to the landfill.

Narinder Singh, the general manager of Saint John Non Profit Housing, said Bezanson's application should probably be made directly to the organization, since it was to take possession of two of the city-owned properties on Friday.

The closing date for the third property is Wednesday.

Singh said no firm date has been set to demolish the buildings.