With the opening of Picaroons last week, a block of Canterbury St. that for years stood empty has radically transformed.
The brewtique joins the Real Food Connections grocery store and Buckland Merrifield Gallery on the gound floor of an old parking garage on Canterbruy Street.
The building is owned by Historica Developments, which announced plans to develop the block with the three businesses last spring.
A scotch bar is set to open down the street in June.
"It sort of matched up with every way we do business and why we do business," he said.
Being in a part of town where there are other new businesses opening up, and bringing in foot traffic, is hugely beneficial to them, he said.
"The bigger the volume, the larger the number of good businesses that are all clustered together, the better it is for everybody. It really turns the neighborhood into a destination neighborhood." he said.
"As long as folks know that if they go into that area of town, they're going to have fun, then it's just good for everybody."
Because the building sits in the middle of Canterbury Street, it had huge potential to transform the area, said Keith Brideau, president of Historica Developments.
"Because of the visability and location, it's really made a tremendous difference," he said.
The three businesses seem to compliment each other, as all offer high quality, locally made products with similar clientele, Brideau said.
"I think what's happening is because there's so many good things happening in the area, it's becoming a place to be, and it's where businesses want to be because they know the traffic's going to be there," he said.
"It's just a great quality in the area, and a location, with respect to all the other restaurants, retailers, the waterfront, the retail on King Street. It's just a very nice location overall in the uptown."
Levi Lawrence, co-owner of Real Food Connections with his wife Kim, said they ultimately decided on their Canterbruy Street location because of the strong business community in the area.
The store opened in December of last year.
"What was really the pull was the community of businesses in that area was very collaborative, was very passionate, that was really looking to improve the space," he said.
"There's a lot of restaurants and food businesses that are owned by foodies themselves, instead of just being franchises or corporate."
That collaboration between businesses on that stretch of uptown, and the way they compliment each other, seems to be a key reason why it's thriving, said Janet Scott, director of business and community development for Enterprise Saint John.
"If you look at the mix of businesses that are on Canterbury Street, you have both high-end global companies and retail establishments. It's a huge, huge change from what we would have seen a decade ago," she said.
"I think it took a few people to take a risk to invest. The investments that have been made have been high end investments, where they're shooting for world-class establishments. And the market's responding."
Seeing uptown thrive is good news for the entire city, as the more businesses that develop and thrive, the more the city can collect in commercial property taxes, said Nancy Tissington, executive director of Uptown Saint John.
"If your heartbeat of your city is thriving, then it does impact outlining areas as well," she said.
Saint John’s Keith Brideau has made a name for himself by tackling projects nobody else would. His company Historica has transformed the city’s uptown landscape, taking vacant or rundown urban properties and turning them into vibrant apartments, retail and office spaces.
We asked Keith three questions:
1) Why did you see an opportunity in redeveloping uptown Saint John when many others didn’t?
Simply put, the stars had to align. There were many others who saw the opportunity. Chances are they just didn’t have all the right ingredients and/or the desire to make it happen.
Not only did it require someone with vision and a tremendous amount of work ethic, it required the passion and courage to be brave enough to try. To be frank, rebuilding a city isn’t for everyone.
It also took some good sales skills to raise the capital necessary to turn the vision into a reality. My guess is not everyone who saw the opportunity had the ability to articulate the vision and sell it to others.
Stamina and persistence have also been critical to our success. There are all kinds of obstacles that challenge and threaten our ability to move forward, and it was through sheer determination and will power that we were able to do what we have.
The timing also had to be right from a market perspective. More specifically, it’s easier to sell the uptown when the momentum’s on your side and there’s more to see and do in the area than ever before. Twenty years ago, people were looking to move away. But now that we have all these great people, entrepreneurs, businesses, and a lifestyle that’s second to none in New Brunswick, everybody wants to be here. Without a doubt, the dream is becoming more and more real every day.
2) What is it about uptown Saint John that inspires you?
There are two main things that inspire me when it comes to the uptown. The first is the people, and the second is the character. At first, it was all about the money and real estate. But now it’s about the challenge. It’s about creating a legacy for future generations. I want to be remembered as the guy who helped make Saint John great again.
The amount of support I have received over the years has been incredibly encouraging. Literally, I’ve received thousands of messages from people telling me how great it is that we’ve chosen to rebuild the city. When times get tough and I feel like giving up, all I do is think about all the words of encouragement I’ve received over the years. I think about how much I want my children to want to stay here, and how much everyone wants Saint John to prosper.
From a character perspective, we have really cool architecture and it just so happens to be on the waterfront. The uptown is also incredibly walkable. You can pretty much do anything you want within a matter of minutes. Believe it or not, uptown Saint John probably offers a better quality of life than anywhere in Atlantic Canada. Everything you would ever need is here and everything is within walking distance. Now how cool is that?
3) What’s next for you and Historica Developments?
Our current projects include turning around a 15 unit residential building, an eight unit residential building, transforming the former Bustin’s building on Germain Street into eight high quality loft apartments, a couple high quality office spaces, an Italian restaurant, a pub, and a comedy club.
In addition to that, we’re also in the process of looking for more investors. We’re looking for people who want to partner with us so we can continue building on the momentum we have and make Saint John great again.
Simply put, there are all kinds of opportunities, so many great things to look forward to, and so much more we can do to make sure Saint John becomes the place to be for the foreseeable future.
SAINT JOHN * Sitting on his rooftop patio on Canada Day, Keith Brideau had the perfect view of the fireworks. He and 15 friends mingled on the deck, barbecuing and basking in the warmth of the night.
Rooftop patios are a growing trend in Saint John, something Brideau said is helping to expand the real estate market in the Port City.
Brideau, president and CEO of Historica Developments, said for the past seven years he's built a handful on his properties. He got the idea after spending time in Toronto.
"I thought it was a really cool experience when you went onto the rooftop of a building and looked at all of the buildings. You had a totally different experience."
More people looking for apartments are asking for that kind of outdoor space, he said. They want a common area where they can host and often that's difficult with the small property sizes in uptown.
In addition to an open space, people want those breathtaking views.
"I have a personal rooftop patio overlooking the harbour and to me it offers me multi-million dollar views of the city."
In other cities that's what those views can go for, but in Saint John the price tag tends to be smaller. But they are in demand and Brideau said he finds more people are asking for rooftop decks.
The character of the building combined with those open spaces adds a tremendous value to the real estate market, he said.
The chairman of the city's heritage development board is also calling the growing trend positive, saying it's helping increase development on typically-vacant floors of heritage buildings.
Bob Boyce, an architect and chair of the board, said over the past five to 10 years more and more people are approaching the committee to install rooftop decks. The board approved a rooftop space for a Duke Street homeowner only last month.
"Quite a few of them are popping up," he said.
It's only in the past few years this has become more commonplace. People are interested in experiencing their properties in ways they might not have done, before, he said.
"There's often not room for a decent yard for tenants to enjoy the outdoors on a day like today."
So people look skyward. Anyone can apply to the heritage development board and so long as they meet a few guidelines, construction can go ahead.
Boyce said all applicants must start with a flat roof. Generally they want the patio to be pushed back from the street so it's not as visible. They've approved wooden and glass railings as well, despite the fact they look modern compared to the heritage buildings.
"We generally accept them as clearly not being something that was original," he said.
Then they have to take into consideration building code requirements like proper access and safety, along with the load the roof can hold and how many people might get on the roof. Those specifications fall under the control of the building inspections department.
Brideau doesn't find it difficult to adhere to the heritage of the city, either.
"The heritage development board, I find, is pretty open-minded when it comes to rooftop patios."
In some cases they have to engineer them to avoid things like the wind off the harbour, but in most cases building one is pretty straightforward.
Brideau believes this is where development in Saint John is headed next.
"In the next decade you're going to see many more rooftop patios. I know quite a few people who have them and to see them in the distance, enjoying their rooftop space and having barbecues and friends over. It creates a really cool vibe here in uptown Saint John.
One of Saint John’s most forward-thinking developers is showing his faith in the city’s Uptown. Keith Brideau of Historica Developments has announced plans to develop a block on Canterbury Street with three businesses and a series of high-end apartments.
Mr. Brideau already owns a series of developments in the city’s Uptown and has invested heavily in heritage restorations. This latest project, which will see three boutique-style retail establishments -- Picaroons Brewery, Real Food Connection store and the Buckland-Merrifield Gallery -- is further testament to his vision and the Uptown’s potential.
We hear often about the reasons why developers shun the Uptown area, why there are so many empty lots and dilapidated buildings and and so little development activity. But it is not all doom and gloom. Big thinkers like Mr. Brideau are willing to take a risk and see the longer-term potential of investing in the city’s oldest quarter.
One of the biggest attributes of Saint John’s Uptown is its history and character. As Picaroons owner Sean Dunbar said: “I like the energy of Uptown Saint John.” It has something other city cores in New Brunswick do not have and it this that Mr. Brideau is trying to capitalize on.
What Mr. Brideau is trying to create is a critical mass of smaller, boutique-style commercial establishments that shoppers won’t find elsewhere in the region. If he is able to create a cluster among the many heritage buildings of the Uptown, it will cement the neighbourhood’s future as a vibrant urban centre in which to shop and play.
We applaud Historica’s latest plans and urge the city to take the hint and become more active to create conditions which will spur additional projects like this in our Uptown core.
Three New Brunswick businesses are teaming up to bring a mix of local food, beer and art to an historic building in uptown Saint John.
Keith Brideau, the president of Historica Developments, says the new Canterbury Carpark will open in November 2015. (CBC)
Historica Developments, owners of the Canterbury Carpark, a Victorian-era commercial building in the Trinity Royal district of Saint John, announced Thursday that Picaroons Traditional Ales, Real Food Connections and a Buckland Merrifield Art Gallery will occupy the main floor of the building.
Keith Brideau, the president of Historica Developments, says the combination of businesses will be a great addition to uptown Saint John.
"We have local food, local beer and local art. I really don't think it gets much better than that," said Brideau.
"It's going to become the place to be in uptown Saint John, and probably New Brunswick, for that matter," he said.
The upper floors of the building will be apartments.
A Historica press release states the art gallery is a partnership between Peter Buckland and Shannon Merrifield "that will bring the finest art and craft in New Brunswick to Saint John."
Levi Lawrence, the founder of Real Food Connections, is looking forward to the expansion to Saint John. (CBC)
Levi Lawrence, the founder of Real Food Connections, a locally-sourced meat and produce supplier in Fredericton, says he is excited to become part of what he calls "one of the best food scenes" in the entire province.
"We talked to chefs like Jessie Vergen, the East Coast Bistro, the new Port City Royal, Thandi's, Big Tide Brewery and Happinez, you've got all these great businesses that are devoted to a better food product, better food source, we wanted to be a part of that," he said.
Picaroons makes old new in Fredericton too Northampton Brewery, known for Picaroons Traditional Ales, is also expanding to the Canterbury Carpark building in the port city.
Sean Dunbar, the owner of Northampton Brewery, shows CBC's Lauren Bird the new Fredericton brewery location, also in an historic building. (CBC)
Meanwhile, in Fredericton, the brewery is opening a new facility in another historic building, the Gibson Roundhouse.
Sean Dunbar, the owner of Northampton Brewery, said he expects the new Fredericton location to be operational by the end of July 2015.
Dunbar says the exterior shell of the roundhouse, which was built in 1885, will be preserved.
"We want to preserve its uniqueness and its character. It's a big challenge just to make the decision to work with what we've got and make it into something that's the same, but better than it used to be," he said.
All of the original brick made in Boss Gibson's brickyard will be stripped and repainted, while windows and flooring will be replaced.
The brewery will also pay homage to its past with a section to showcase the history of the neighbourhood and Fredericton's railroad industry.
"It's not going to be a museum but we want people to be aware of the connection between the past and the present," said Dunbar.
Northampton Brewery bought the building from the city of Fredericton for $100 in 2013.
Dunbar said he expects to put between $3 and $5 million into refurbishing it.
"Had we not taken the building on, I don't think it would be here," he said.
Both the Canterbury Carpark and Gibson Roundhouse projects are expected to open to the public in fall 2015.
Saint John * Keith Brideau's vision for a revitalized section of uptown Saint John is one step closer to reality.
The co-founder and vice-president of Historica Developments announced construction is underway at 30-38 Canterbury St. to make way for a trio of new businesses and 14 high-end apartments.
Setting up shop below the units will be Picaroons, Real Food Connections and Buckland Merrifield Gallery, an art and craft spot established by Peter Buckland and Shannon Merrifield.
The restoration of the aging brick buildings is the first phase in developing a new, vibrant area on the typically quiet street, Brideau said on Thursday.
"I think this area is going to go through the biggest transformation in uptown probably over the next couple of years," he said.
The second phase for the block, on the corner of Canterbury Street and Grannan Lane, includes similar type buildings on Germain Street with high-end apartments in the upper levels and businesses on the ground floor. He said Historica will eventually roll out 22 more apartments on Germain, and he's in the midst of finalizing leases for office space and a potential new restaurant and pub. Between the structures on both streets will be a courtyard for tenants surrounded by brick buildings, he said.
The idea would be to use the alley (Grannan Lane) as a social urban space with other shops, pubs and cafés popping up.
"It's similar to what you expect when you go into an old European city where it has that character, has the charm, and we're just going to polish it up and keep that authenticity about the buildings and about the alley," Brideau said.
Sean Dunbar, the owner of Picaroons, said he's been hearing Saint John consumers have wanted to buy Picaroons growlers for years. He said the brewery is familiar with the architecture firm, Acre Architects, as well as the owners of Real Food Connections, so it was an easy call when the opportunity presented itself.
"I couldn't say no," Dunbar said.
"I like the energy in uptown Saint John. It feels like a really great place to be."
For Picaroons, which will be located on the corner, opening next to Real Food Connections isn't a coincidence, Brideau said.
"I felt like the two businesses, Picaroons and Real Foods, really want to be close to one another because a lot of their clientele is similar," he said. "You know, you can get some local beer and you get some local food."
Dunbar called it an "attitudinal demographic," meaning their customers have similar attitudes towards life.
"It's a natural fit," he said.
"I kind of know what they do and support it a whole lot, so I just thought we would all be stronger together."
Dunbar said he expects a late fall opening for the store that will slightly resemble the Brewtique in downtown Fredericton.
It will be a retail store, he said, but with a different brewing system that will allow for a wider selection of beer than at the Fredericton shop. Dunbar said they're also developing a concept of rotating beer-themed retail.
"We want to put a bit of a dynamic aspect to it, an ever-changing aspect to it," he said. "We want it to be a place where people come and see ... what else goes around the beer and what matches the beer."
Historica, which purchased the buildings from the Bustin family in 2014, has lease agreements with the trio of businesses for the 7,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
Historica is pleased to announce Picaroons, Real Food Connections & Buckland Merrifield Gallery will soon be coming to Uptown Saint John. All three businesses are working on plans to occupy space on the ground level of Historica’s newest acquisition, the former Canterbury Carpark located at 30-38 Canterbury Street.
Picaroons is a New Brunswick based Brewing Company that offers high quality traditional ales, Real Food Connections is a food retailer that specializes in providing high quality foods that are locally sourced, organic and healthy, and Buckland Merrifield Gallery is a partnership between Peter Buckland and Shannon Merrifield that will bring the finest art and craft in New Brunswick to Saint John.
Historica is more than excited to see these three businesses co-locating next to one another and choosing the Uptown as it further solidifies Uptown Saint John as the place to be in all of New Brunswick. Not just for residents, but for business as well. Local food, local beer and local art, what more could you ask for? It represents the perfect combination from a quality of life perspective.
In addition to the arrival of these three great businesses, Historica is also pleased to announce the construction of fourteen high quality living spaces on the upper two floors of the building. These living spaces will be Historica’s best yet and second to none offering residents’ large open living spaces with 10 to 12 foot high ceilings, exposed brick and heavy timber construction with all the modern amenities and a private outdoor courtyard that people come to expect from Historica.
Without a doubt, that area of Canterbury Street is about to undergo the biggest transformation the Uptown has seen in years. For further details and information on the above, please contact Keith Brideau at 214-4777, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Brideau flipped his first house right out of university, back in 2004. He put some sweat equity into it, spent a few thousand dollars, painted it, put new countertops in the kitchen and added new hardware, new light fixtures, etc. It was a really cheap townhouse but it was one of the most important purchases of his life because it got him into real estate.
When his friends were impressed with his first renovation, he decided to buy a duplex and get a better understanding of the real estate industry. Taking something that was ugly, under-utilized and needing some TLC and using his imagination and creativity to make it beautiful, useful and coveted became Keith’s passion. This passion was unleashed as he started buying bigger properties to develop.
Six years ago, Keith co-founded Historica, a Saint John company offering the highest quality residential, retail, commercial and office spaces in uptown Saint John. Historica’s mandate is to
acquire, design, develop, renovate, lease and manage large-scale properties.
Raised in the north end of Saint John, Keith graduated from UNB with his bachelor of science in engineering and a diploma in technology, management and entrepreneurship. Keith likes to be involved in his community – on top of being the vice-president and co-founder of Historica, he is a member of the Wallace McCain Institute, a Rotarian, sits on the City of Saint John’s planning advisory committee and he’s a director of Uptown Saint John Inc.
Q: When did you start seeing the opportunity for redevelopment of older buildings in Saint John?
A: I lived in Toronto for about 10 months working for a professional services company. I was going back and forth between Saint John and Toronto every two weeks. I was living in a condo tower in Toronto with 21 floors, a rooftop patio, a hot tub, a few barbecues, fitness centre, movie theatre and a golf simulator. When I walked out the door we were right in the middle of the entertainment district. It was a huge eye-opener for a guy from Saint John. When I came back to Saint John I saw that there was really something missing. I saw the old buildings that were heavily vacant and I knew there was a ton of potential.
Q: I understand you decided to fully leverage this opportunity by attracting some financialn investors?
A: I looked for investors because I knew there was a great investment opportunity in Saint John, but I needed some partners. I needed some money to really capitalize on this so I put an ad out in Kijiji and I posted it from coast to coast – from Vancouver all the way to Newfoundland. The ad said, “Attention real estate investors, I’m going to tell you now what you wish you would have heard five years from now had I not told you today.” What I was seeing in Saint John was probably about $15 billion in projects planned, such as Eider Rock (Irving Oil’s second refinery) and the Point Lepreau project.
Q: What was the response to your Kijiji ad?
A: I had about a dozen calls and I was fortunate to get a couple of people from Alberta who were experienced in real estate, understood what the real investment looks like and could spot an
opportunity. They flew here about a week later and we started to look at opportunities – much larger properties than I had actually ever worked on. Before I knew it we had investors and we were offering on a million-dollar property. This was at the time when I had been only dealing with properties that were $300,000. We were now really unleashing the potential of each building.
Q: Did anything change when the 15 billion in projects didn’t pan out like you had hoped?
A: Other people saw it as a problem or an obstacle. I’m more of an optimistic type of person. I always try to see the good in every challenge or the silver lining in every dark cloud. We didn’t take any huge leaps, we took steps forward when everybody else was saying, “Wait a minute, this is the wrong time to be investing.”
We didn’t bet the farm. We just tested the market. We did a few apartments, put them on the market then did a few more. If we had done a 100-unit development at that time, well, we probably would have been in trouble.
Q: Recent vacancy rate headlines around the province are saying it is at 12 per cent. Is this the doom and gloom you’re experiencing?
A: Our vacancy is pretty close to zero and that’s because we’re offering a very unique product in a great location. We offer exposed brick, 10- or 12-foot ceilings, big heavy timbers, a rooftop patio with a hot tub, a view of the harbour and for a good price in Saint John. There’s nobody else that’s offering this unique product. People want something different.
Q: So your goal is to differentiate your properties?
A: If you want to help guarantee your success, I think one of the best ways to do it is to be different from everybody else.Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Cash flow. I got perspective when I went to listen to a CEO of one of the largest developers in the country. They built the SkyDome in Toronto and all kinds of major projects and they’re a billion-dollar company and even they have cash flow issues.
Q: People reading this may be sitting on the cusp of an idea, like you were. What advice would you give?
A: I would say you have to look at how much pain you’ll feel in the long term if you don’t do it. So the pain of regret is probably a lot more painful than the pain of actually going for it. Personally, I don’t want to have any regrets.
Q: How would you finish the following sentence, “A leader’s job is to…”?
A: It’s to dream, inspire, execute and deliver.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: I’m always challenged because I’m always thinking about the future. One of my biggest challenges is enjoying the present as much as I need to. The truly successful person is somebody who really hasn’t lost sight of what’s most important in life.
Q: Where does inspiration come from for you?
A: It comes from a lot of places. I grew up in poverty in the north end of Saint John, down on the boulevard. There were a lot of issues around me, but it taught me the value of a dollar and it motivated me to be something incredible. I want to show kids in those types of neighbourhoods that it doesn’t matter where you come from; all that matters is where you’re going.
SAINT JOHN * After more than 100 years in the Bustin family, Bustin's Fine Furniture has become HistoricaDevelopments' newest tenant.
Historica has purchased 99 Germain St., occupied by Bustin's, along with neighbouring 107 Germain St. - home to Dr. Brown, Claire Driscoll, Ispire and Enovex - and 109 Germain St., a five-unit apartment occupied building. Also included in the sale was the "Canterbury Car Park," located behind Bustin's at 30 Canterbury St.
All four buildings had been owned by the Bustin family, and a sale had been in the works since 2009.
Bustin's has signed a lease with Historica to continue its business. Bob Bustin, owner and president of Bustin's, said renting was the easiest option after the death of his father, Stan Bustin, in 2007, and the retirement of his brother and former business partner, two years ago.
"It's right up (Historica's) alley with what they've done, and I like what they've done, too," said Bustin, who plans to keep running the business as he's always had. "I have good staff. I love working with them and love what I do. I guess it's in my genes."
At an estimated 55,000 square feet, the complex, which is being dubbed Historica Quattro, is Historica's largest purchase to date.
"It's a pretty big step for us, but a very logical step at the same time," said Keith Brideau, co-founder and vice-president of Historica.
Historica, which now owns more than 200,000 square feet of uptown real estate, has five similar complexes of redeveloped buildings in uptown Saint John, including most recently Historica Trinity in the former Hayward & Warwick buildings on Princess Street.
The first building scheduled to be redeveloped is 30 Canterbury St., which Bustin's had once used as storage but has been vacant.
The warehouse is a heritage building recognized officially as the Jones Building. It was built following the GreatFire, and during its life as been home to T.R. Jones' clothing and furnishing goods business, S. Hayward and Company's wholesale hardware, O'Brien Motors and sales and service operation for Chrysler and Plymouth vehicles.
Brideau says the plan is to redevelop the warehouse as 14 to 16 high-end apartments, with 16-foot ceilings, and ground-floor retail and commercial space. Redevelopment planning is to begin next month, with the hope to complete construction next summer.
Brideau says the fact the buildings were clustered, and in a central location, made them a commodity. Since the buildings can be connected, they can share things such as exits and stairwell requirements, which allows for more rental space.
All four of the buildings in Historica Quattro are designated heritage. Bob Boyce, chairman of the city's heritage board, says he's excited to see Historica investing in more property and is looking forward to seeing its development proposal.
"Historica has been co-operative and quite sensitive about the heritage bylaw requirements," said Boyce.
"Historica is proving that there's a market for living space in heritage properties, and, of course, that makes it easier to sell the message that we can keep our old buildings and have a vibrant and alive uptown."
Boyce says the last major block of heritage property redevelopment would have been CenterBeam Place, which he says made a "huge difference."
Brideau says his ability to find motivated sellers uptown is part of "a huge wave of transfer of wealth over the next five to 10 years."
"What (Historica) is doing is providing an exit for people who have worked hard their whole lives," said Brideau.
John Ainsworth, who owns Printing Plus and the building next to 30 Canterbury St., welcomes his new neighbour. He says he has received inquiries about his building as well, but isn't ready to sell.
He's owned his building since 1981, and says the big change in the city has been tenants now interested in living on the upper floors.
Brideau says these new tenants needed a higher-quality product to convince them to stay uptown. He points to the near total occupancy of Historica Trinity, which won't be entirely completed until Aug. 1, as proof.
"Just that speaks to the fact that if you introduce high-quality spaces with lots of character, if you give what people want, people will take up those spaces."