Sackville developer JN Lafford Realty Inc. is asking the town to rezone a small part of the former United Church property at Main and York Streets to allow for construction of a $6 million luxury apartment building for tenants over 55.
John Lafford says the three- to four-storey building, the third one on the site, would contain at least 28 apartments and possibly as many as 36 depending on how much underground parking he could build.
Most of the two-bedroom units would be 1,250 square feet with monthly rents ranging from $1,250 to $1,700. About 85 per cent of the apartments would overlook the Mount Allison campus, the Swan Pond and the Waterfowl Park.
“It’s a unique spot to be able to showcase that view,” Lafford said today during a telephone interview.
“We’re investing $6 million because of the location,” he added. “You couldn’t build another building like that anywhere else in Sackville.”
Lafford says most of the property is already zoned for mixed use, but he’s asking the town for a zoning change on a small portion to be able to position the building in a way that would make it more attractive.
“We could go ahead and build a building there without any [zoning] approval, but it wouldn’t look so great on the site,” he says.
“The reason why we’re asking for a little piece that is already [zoned] institutional is just to make our development look more complete and be able to keep a little more greenery, more trees.”
Lafford acknowledges that some birch trees would need to be removed during construction, but says the company intends to replace those trees because upscale tenants want greenery.
“It’s not to our advantage to have a bunch of pavement around the building,” he says.
“This project is directed toward people who will be here for five to 10 years and for us, it’s a 30 to 40 year investment.”
Demand for upscale apartments
Lafford predicts there will be strong demand for his apartments, partly based on the fact that there’s already a waiting list for the 11 large 1,150 square-foot units the company owns on Waterfowl Lane across from the booster pumping station on Main Street.
He also notes that New Brunswick’s older population is expected to quadruple by 2051 and this project would allow Sackville to attract people to spend money in downtown businesses.
“I think that’s a win-win for myself as a developer, I create a demand; I think for the town it’s wonderful — it gives them a tax base as well as being able to advertise to that group of people; and the provincial government also gets a nice chunk of the success of my buildings.”
Town Council is expected to discuss Lafford’s rezoning application at its next meeting on Tuesday.