FREDERICTON – The signs of growth were in the air this year with cranes at work downtown and in Knowledge Park, making real estate developers Huddle’s newsmakers of the year in Fredericton.
Krista Ross, the CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, says a trio of projects highlight a year of rapid growth in the commercial and residential estate markets.
“The Cyber Centre building is the one we think is going to be so impactful on our economy. It will impact employment but also keeps us at the front edge of what’s happening in the cybersecurity industry,” said Ross in an interview.
“We’re also excited by the Ross Ventures building which is coming together and looking really great in our downtown, and last week’s announcement of what’s going to happen with the Centennial building is also super.”
Ross would also add a fourth project to that list, the airport terminal expansion project that began in June, because of the impact it will have on economic growth across the region.
“To help us make those developments [a success] we’ve had a construction project at the airport that was long-awaited and well-underway.”
The construction of the Cyber Centre building was announced in the summer of 2018 but work began in earnest this year. The 145,000-square-foot facility will be dedicated to the cybersecurity protection of critical infrastructures such as transportation, energy, food, environment and defence, says Larry Shaw, CEO of Ignite Fredericton and Knowledge Park.
It will also be a collaboration centre where private businesses, governments and universities can work together on cybersecurity research and development. The University of New Brunswick, Cyber NB, IBM and Siemens are already active players in the sector in Fredericton.
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The Cyber Centre is on schedule to open in November of next year, and Shaw expects it to be 80 percent occupied by that time.
“With the cyber cluster developing in Fredericton, New Brunswick is in a leadership position in Canada for the protection of critical infrastructure,” said Shaw in an e-mail to Huddle. “We have the opportunity to create hundreds of jobs serving global clients’ research and development in cybersecurity.”
In a commentary published in Huddle, Ross says the centre “is by far the top infrastructure priority of Fredericton’s business community and sets up New Brunswick to be a key player in one of the faster-growing industries on the globe.”
As the Cyber Centre was being constructed in Knowledge Park, Ross Ventures was at work on its five-storey commercial building on Carleton Street downtown.
“The windows are in, the facade is looking good,” says Ross.
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The company has not officially announced the anchor tenant and other businesses that will locate there, but the tenant mix to date are legal and financial services. The building is scheduled to open in Spring 2020.
The first office tower with “Class A” commercial space constructed in downtown Fredericton in nearly 20 years will feature floor-to-ceiling windows and smart building technology to increase tenant comfort & reduce energy costs.
“Anytime the private sector shows their confidence by putting together a new project and developing a new opportunity, that certainly bodes well for the community and speaks well of confidence in the economy,” said Ross.
The year ended with another announcement about a downtown private-sector development in the works.
The week before Christmas, the provincial government announced that the Centennial Building downtown will be purchased by a private developer with plans to invest nearly $50-million on a hotel, restaurant and residential development.
RELATED: Developer Buys Centennial Building, Plans Hotel And Residential Complex
Located on King Street, the building started undergoing $78 million in renovations last year, until the then newly-elected provincial government led by Premier Blaine Higgs cancelled the project in November 2018. The government did a call out for private developers to take over the building in the spring.
Centennial Heritage Properties is planning a two-phased approach for the building which will include 240,000 square feet of residential space and 43,000 square feet for hotel and restaurant space.
“Everyone is talking about it,” said Ross. “Everybody is interested to know what hotel [will locate there], what the designs will look like, what will the restaurant be. People are pretty excited that’s something is going to happen.”
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