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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A Cornwall-based development company wants to build a large residential complex in the heart of downtown Summerside.
Arsenault Brothers Construction has its eyes set on 151 Heather Moyse Dr., which locals would know as the former Burger King property.
The building’s final design is not yet set in stone - the company is waiting on some final geological and costing data before firming up its plans - but it will include about 76 rental units and will be between six and seven storeys tall.
David Arsenault, property developer for the company, said as far as he is aware the building would be the tallest apartment complex in the province.
He said the company has had its eyes on developing in downtown Summerside for some time and has been working on this project for several months.
“I think the downtown has got a lot of potential there,” said Arsenault, who grew up in St. Nicholas, near Summerside.
The former Burger King lot is a great piece of real estate, he said, and the company is excited about its potential.
“If we were going to build something in Summerside we didn’t want just to have another building out (on the periphery) next to a number of other ones – we wanted to differentiate ourselves with a great location.”
Of the total number of units in the building, about 30 will be designated for people on the province’s affordable housing waiting list, while the rest will be open to the general public.
The building will be situated along the Water Street side of the property.
Arsenault Brothers is hoping for a spring 2019 construction start and a 2021 opening.
It is unclear at this point if the project will need any kind of approval from city council before proceeding. That could ultimately depend on the final designs the company submits for its building permits and whether it seeks any kind of variance or exemption.
Arnold Croken, chief executive officer of the Summerside Port Corporation, which owns the property, welcomed the proposal.
A number of developers have proposed projects for that property over the past several years, but all have fallen through for one reason or another, said Croken.
He added that the Arsenault Brothers project is the most promising he’s seen to date.
“I’m quite pleased with the discussions we’ve had so far with this company. We like what we hear, we like what we see, they’re local and they’re committed seeing it done. We just hope it all pulls together like they anticipate it will.”
Croken also said that if this development goes ahead, it would only take up about half the total available land at 151 Heather Moyse Dr., which would leave room for a potential second project on the site.
Moyna Matheson, owner of Samuel’s Coffee House just down the street, said the more people living in the downtown the better for ventures like hers.
“Businesses like mine, these small businesses, we positioned ourselves waiting for the people to come (downtown). Now I feel like it’s time," Matheson said. “I know (several years ago), when I read about the Department of Education moving into the Holman Building, that’s when I made the decision to come downtown. So now somebody will read that and who knows what other businesses will come as a result.”