riverview waterfront development

Riverview waterfront development could appeal to a new type of resident

Perhaps it was a moment of foreshadowing.

An acquaintance who is moving to the Greater Moncton Area with his wife and young child recently asked my opinion about places to live. They’re coming from a large city in the UK, used to the hustle and bustle of millions of people. He’s prepared for a quieter life, but knows his wife wants to be close to the downtown core. They’re looking for a great, nearby elementary school and a condo lifestyle, at least for the transition period to life in Canada. My first thought: a family-friendly building on the Riverview side of the Gunningsville Bridge would be perfect.

Not much time passed before the news broke: Cordova Realty is proposing a 10-storey, two-towered building that would include 150 residential units. The location: where the current Fundy Chocolate River Station sits.

I’m not sure I support tearing down an existing town facility, with longterm businesses and world-renowned artwork on its sides, to build condos on that exact site. But I can understand the commercial appeal of a modern condo on the waterfront, as well as the shift it would represent for Riverview’s population. The question will fall to council to predict what’s in the best interests of a community that prides itself on a small town, sustainable vibe but has big dreams.

The project has already passed some early hurdles. Town officials recently agreed to a variance, allowing for the height of the building. Riverview generally only permits four storey buildings; 10 storeys will be a major shift. Next, council must decide if it will agree to sell the Fundy Chocolate River Station to Cordova Realty, which also will face environmental assessments and design approvals before a building the height of the Delta Beauséjour could be built on the shores of the Petitcodiac.

I’ve looked at the project’s renderings and am trying to envision a building similar to FIVEFIVE Queen, the condo/boutique hotel/commercial venture nearly complete in downtown Moncton, sitting in place of the Fundy Chocolate River Station. It could be an incredible change, not only to the landscape but also to the character of Riverview.

Interestingly, on one of the promotional pages for FIVEFIVE, there is a wonderfully urban photo of the Moncton skyline; the view you would have from Riverview, though further down Hillsborough Road, but likely similar to what the top floors of this proposed building would provide. It would be appealing to many people. The FIVEFIVE website also has a 360 degree aerial view from the building, which makes it easy to imagine just what a statement a 10-storey building on Riverview’s waterfront would make. The building would signal a change in the small town that’s been in the shadow of Moncton.

It would more than a physical change, as well. The least-expensive two-bedroom condo available at FIVEFIVE Queen is listed for $485,000, with a one-bedroom as low as $235,000; the remaining one-bedroom penthouse is listed at $409,000. I’m imagining there would be a similar price range for the proposed Cordova building, and a similar success rate in sales and leasing.

Certainly there are many local individuals who can’t image paying those prices for a condo on either side of the Petitcodiac, but perhaps these buildings are being created for families who don’t yet call this area home. Families who have heard about the comparable affordability of the Moncton area, when researching Canada, but are accustomed to the condo lifestyle. Rather than repositioning existing residents, this development has the potential to bring new families to Riverview’s tax base, which has much more than simple economic benefits. It will be interesting to see what we all think of this 10 years from now.

[Please note; it is unclear to me at this time if the Cordova towers are intended to be purchased condos or leased apartments; media reports reference 150 residential units, without specifying more. I am sharing my thoughts on what I think of them being sold as condos.]

A version of this post appeared originally in the Times & Transcript. Click here for more of Jenna Morton’s column, She Said.

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