‘ There’ll be nothing like it’
Man behind proposed power centre brimming with enthusiasm
Get him started and Brad Roberts will talk for hours about his vision for a proposed new commercial development just off Veteran’s Memorial Highway, near the Town of Spaniard’s Bay-Tilton.
The businessman who made his name by installing eavestroughs on homes throughout eastern Newfoundland is so filled with excitement and adrenaline these days that his wife Tina sometimes has to rein him in.
“ It’s hard to control the anxiety rush and the adrenaline rush,” he admitted last week during an interview at his Spaniard’s Bay home.
Roberts is the man behind a new 240-acre development that, once up and running, could change the business landscape and shopping habits of the people in three bays - Conception, Trinity and Placentia.
And if he’s right, it may also mean the days of having to travel to St. John’s in order to avail of a variety of amenities and services may soon be coming to an end.
Roberts boasted there will be nothing like it in the province, saying it will be a combination of the Stavanger Drive and Kelsey Drive power centres in St. John’s, and Donovan’s Business Park in Mount Pearl.
“ If you live in Blaketown, you’ve got a 20-minute run and you’re at a power centre that offers everything Stavanger Drive has to offer,” Roberts said.
“And if you want to pick up material for your fabrication business in Bull Arm, you can cut out an hour’s drive and come right here to this industrial park.”
The project has been two years in the making, and businesses from across the country are taking notice, Roberts said.
Kent Home Improvement and Tim Hortons are the first two names to be mentioned publicly, but many more are ready to sign on, he added.
“ You’ve got ‘em jumping all over this from as far away as Regina, Ontario and Nova Scotia,” Roberts said.
“In these two years we’ve managed to gain the confidence, not just from the provincial bureaucratic and political level, but also at the business level from major grocery, retail and industrial companies outside the province.”
“You’ve got ‘em jumping all over this from as far away as Regina, Ontario and
— Brad Roberts
So what about Wal-Mart, often described as the world’s largest retailer? Wal-Mart has a location at the Trinity-Conception Square Mall in Carbonear, and there’s been plenty of speculation about its future.
When pressed, Roberts would only say, “I’m not in the position or at liberty to discuss who I’m talking to for 80 per cent of the tenants.”
After months of speculation, the lid blew off this story on July 16 when the Town of Spaniard’s Bay issued a news release, stating that it had approved the development of a “power centre” within its boundaries.
Mayor John Drover said the development would bring “economic prosperity” to the entire region.
Drover also announced the town had entered into an agreement that will see water and sewer infrastructure extended to the site, but at no direct cost to taxpayers.
Roberts explained the deal: “ Their investment is not an upfront cost for the town. The development will incur the cost, and the town will reimburse the development. It alleviates any pressure on the tax base.”
The power centre is a multi-million-dollar project that could create an estimated 2,000 jobs within 10 years, said Roberts.
It will be located on Crown land, near the intersection of Veteran’s Highway (Route 70) and Route 73, on the Spaniard’s Bay side of the highway.
The site is forested and undeveloped, but Roberts expects heavy equipment will roll in sometime next summer. He said engineering and design work is currently underway.
He said the decision for the location is obvious, since it’s in between the population bases of the towns of Bay Roberts and Carbonear, and will sit at the beginning of Route 73, which he described as a “ lifeline” to the Trinity South region and megaprojects in Long Harbour, Come By Chance and Bull Arm.
An estimated 45,000 people live within a short drive of the site, he added.
“ We meet every single piece of the criteria and then some for a development like this,” said Roberts.
And this is not just pie in the sky for Roberts. He truly believes in the project, and has every confidence it will work. He called on area residents to support the idea.
“ This is going to mean everything for this area,” he said. “ We’ve always been regional; this just takes it to a new level.”
Spaniard’s Bay businessman Brad Roberts stands on the shoulder of Route 70, near the site of a proposed new commercial and industrial development.