CBRM extends construction deadlines on proposed waterfront hotel at developer's request

Doucet Developments says it needs more time to start work on a proposed hotel and apartment complex in front of the boat marina on the downtown waterfront in Sydney, N.S. (Doucet Developments - image credit)
Doucet Developments says it needs more time to start work on a proposed hotel and apartment complex in front of the boat marina on the downtown waterfront in Sydney, N.S. (Doucet Developments - image credit)

A proposed hotel and apartment project on the downtown waterfront in Sydney, N.S., is being delayed by six months.

Doucet Developments asked Cape Breton regional councillors for the pause, saying a massive snowstorm in February made geotechnical measurements impossible and that affected some design work.

On Tuesday, Douglas MacLennan, a manager with Tier Too Properties that is part of Doucet Developments, told CBRM council the company is still interested in the job, but simply needs an extension on the deadlines set in the agreement to purchase the property from the municipality.

"We're slightly behind schedule from where we anticipated being from an architectural and engineering perspective and ... we want to ensure the facilities are designed in both an efficient and beautiful way," MacLennan said.

"With all that said, our excitement and commitment has not wavered in any capacity. We envision this is only a minor speed bump in the overall development."

Last month, council was told the project was on track, with construction expected to start late this summer or early in the fall.

Tier Too Properties manager Douglas MacLennan says the first phase of construction will include a 10-storey apartment complex and a six-story hotel totalling more than 200 units.
Tier Too Properties manager Douglas MacLennan says the first phase of construction will include a 10-storey apartment complex and a six-story hotel totalling more than 200 units.

Tier Too Properties manager Douglas MacLennan says the first phase of construction will include a 10-storey apartment complex and a six-storey hotel totalling more than 200 units. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Council was also told the developers are switching plans for phases 1 and 2. They initially planned two apartment buildings in the first phase on land between the marina and the cruise ship terminal, to be followed by a hotel complex on land in front of the marina, where the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club used to be.

MacLennan said the first phase will now include one building containing a 10-storey apartment complex with 105 units and a six-storey hotel with 130 rooms.

He also released a new set of drawings showing what the building could look like and conceptual drawings of two proposed residential buildings that could be built in the next phase.

Coun. Steve Parsons said he supports the development, but expressed concerns about what delays in the design phase could mean when construction starts.

Parsons, who works for Eskasoni First Nation and has managed large projects, said delays can normally be expected with material supply and access to labour, but not in architectural and design work.

"To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement," he said.

"Knowing that we have delays now in the design and then anticipating that we're going to have delays in construction, especially with the amount of work that's going on around Cape Breton, I'm disappointed we didn't get to where we said we were going to get in terms of breaking ground this summer."

Coun. Steve Parsons, who has managed large projects for Esaksoni First Nation, voted against the developer's request for deadline extensions on its waterfront proposal.
Coun. Steve Parsons, who has managed large projects for Esaksoni First Nation, voted against the developer's request for deadline extensions on its waterfront proposal.

Coun. Steve Parsons, who has managed large projects for Esaksoni First Nation, voted against the developer's request for deadline extensions on its waterfront proposal. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Coun. Eldon MacDonald, whose district includes downtown Sydney, said delays are to be expected in big developments.

"There's always bumps in the road when you're doing such a large project, so I'm not surprised by what you're asking for and fully support it."

Council voted in favour of extending the company's deadline for permit applications to Dec. 31, 2024, and the deadline for getting shovels in the ground to April 30, 2025.

Parsons was the only one to vote against the delay.

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