Old Woolworth's building in uptown Saint John comes down

·2 min read
Demolition of the former Woolworth's building in Saint John could take more than a week. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)
Demolition of the former Woolworth's building in Saint John could take more than a week. (Shane Fowler/CBC News - image credit)

Demolition of the former Woolworth's building that was falling apart on a prime corner of uptown Saint John started Wednesday morning.

An excavator began punching a hole in the long-abandoned building at about 10 a.m., as dozens of people gathered to watch.

Many had shopped at the store in the 1970s and '80s.

"Sad to see it go, it's a cornerstone," Kevin Arsenault said as he watched the demolition from across the street. "It was a great building back in the day, in the '70's. Really, really, busy."

The demolition had originally been set to begin May 17, but there was an unexpected delay.

Developer Percy Wilbur says demolition of the former store and two neighboring structures could take more than a week to finish.
Developer Percy Wilbur says demolition of the former store and two neighboring structures could take more than a week to finish.(Shane Fowler/CBC News)

"There were a couple of tenants up above that were making nests and we had to evict them last night," said Percy Wilbur, developer of the 12-storey building that will take the abandoned building's place at the head of King Street.

After weeks of clearing out the insides of the building, workers noticed seagulls setting up shop on the roof.

Seagulls are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

"So we had to wait 10 days and get a permit and deal with them appropriately," Wilbur said.

With the birds safely removed, demolition is expected to take more than a week.

Dozens of people gathered Wednesday morning to watch the demolition, some with fond memories of shopping at the once popular Woolworth's.
Dozens of people gathered Wednesday morning to watch the demolition, some with fond memories of shopping at the once popular Woolworth's.(Graham Thompson/CBC News)

Not only is the Woolworth location at 91 Kings Street be demolished, but the next-door buildings of 85 and 87 King, are also coming down.

Wilbur's project will include 95 apartments and retail space, under the address of 99 King St.

What the new building will look like is still being decided.

"We're still in the design phase," Wilbur said. "We're designing the building to go in there as an appropriate looking project that would fit in the community."

It's expected the project will completed in 2½ years.

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