A building with a view
Developer proposing $10-million residential-commercial complex for downtown Sydney
Marty Chernin says he believes in Cape Breton.
That is part of what is spurring his company Harbour Royal Development Ltd.’s proposal to build an estimated $10-million, eight-storey mixed residential- commercial complex at the corner of Dorchester Street and the Esplanade in downtown Sydney, overlooking the harbour.
“I’m a big believer in CBRM and Cape Breton Island and I think that the econ- omy eventually will turn around,” Chernin said.
His confidence in the region could help encourage others look at investing in the downtown, he added.
“We’ve developed a lot of properties in downtown Sydney, my partner Hugh Tweedie and I — Commerce Tower, the Harbour Place, TD Bank, Royal Bank, 500 George Place — I still have a lot of confidence in Cape Breton,” Chernin said.
“I know the ups and downs, but I’ve been doing business here in one shape or another probably for 50 years. I’ve seen downturns and I’ve seen upturns, and I still believe there is potential here.
Chernin said he thinks there is a demand for nice waterfront apartments in Sydney, with baby boomers a potential main market.
“People that their children have gone off and maybe they don’t want to have their homes any more or they’d rather be in an apartment, maybe they have a summer place,” Chernin said in an interview. “I just think the timing is right.” It’s right, he said, because he believes the Donkin mine will go ahead, and he is hopeful about a proposed liquefied natural gas development at Bear Head, as well as potential development around the port of Sydney.
The building would be located opposite Commerce Tower. The 42-apartment units would range in size from about 1,400-1,600 square feet. There would be underground parking available for tenants.
It’s a smaller development than one he initially proposed about a decade ago. That Spanish Gates project would have been larger, with a mix of commercial development and condominiums and a hotel. In addition to being smaller and lacking the hotel component, the current proposal is set back far- ther from the water and the building will be limited to land already owned by Harbour Royale.
At a meeting this week, Cape Breton Regional council voted to hold a public participation program to begin in September where residents can weigh in on proposed changes to the North End Sydney Planning Strategy that will be required to allow the project to proceed.
Council is also asking Chernin to undertake at his own expense a traffic analysis for the development.
Chernin said he has adjusted the placement of the new building on his lots to abide by rules protecting viewplanes of the water.
Once the public consultation is concluded and if Chernin is granted a permit to go ahead with construction, he said he hopes work at the site could begin as early as late fall.
“I’m hoping if all goes well to get into the ground probably by November because we have to drive piles and do the superstructure,” he said.
Construction would likely take 12-14 months to complete.
This conceptual drawing depicts what the view of the new building proposed by Harbour Royal Development Ltd. for downtown Sydney would look like from Dorchester Street.