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Good news update: The City of Saint John reports record-breaking development this summer


In a presentation to the Growth Committee this week, the City presented data that shows development activity broke records this past July, representing the highest monthly construction value the City has seen in the last ten years.

“Activity in the One Stop Development Shop has been extremely high,” said Amy Poffenroth, Deputy Commissioner of Growth and Community Development for the City. “Developers, business owners and residents are taking advantage of the prime construction season and seeking permits for projects across the City, and staff are processing applications as quickly and efficiently as possible five days a week. This was an unexpected outcome for us, given that municipalities really weren’t sure what impacts the pandemic would have on development activity.”

The reality of having high demand for permit approvals is a really good problem for the City to have. It shows that recovery from the initial impact of the pandemic is strong – people are choosing to spend on improvements to their properties, developers have confidence in the local economy and long-term opportunity, and crews are able to work safely.

When looking at the previous six months, and at this summer over previous years, June and July 2020 have been particularly strong months. Poffenroth expects the August numbers to show similar results once they are available in October.

A look at the numbers shows the highest July construction value in the last 10 years

•    The 10-year average for permit valuations at the end July is $64M. As of the end of July 2020, the City had a permit valuation of $75M. This represents the second highest value at this point in the year when compared to values from the previous 10 years. For reference, the highest on record was the year the Irving Oil Ltd. home office project permit was approved.
•    For the month of July itself, this is the highest monthly construction value in the last 10 years, which also followed a 10-year record-breaking June.
•    The six-year average number of permits issued at the end of July is 470. As of the end of July 2020, the City issued 415, which includes large projects and many smaller home-owner improvements.  
•    Permit revenue projections for the year were lowered in the spring to account for the anticipated impacts of the pandemic. However, those projections are now being adjusted up to account for the growth in numbers. Before COVID-19, permit revenues were projected to be $750,000 for 2020. The most recent projections have increased to $900,000. For reference, $900,000 worth of permit revenue would reflect approximately $100M worth of construction value.

Under construction – some major permits issued in the last two months include:

• 95 Wentworth – construction of a multi-unit residential complex with 83 units
• 75 Heather Way – construction of a 24-unit multi-residential complex
• 50 Via Calabria Street – An 82-unit multi-residential complex
• Harding Street – A new Starbucks location
• 7-11 Wellington Row – Saint John Non Profit housing projects, totaling 47 units
• 134 Taylor Avenue – construction of a 12-unit complex

And there’s more! There are currently over 35 permits in the queue being reviewed by the One Stop Development Shop for approval with a total construction value of $44M.

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