CBRM selects firm behind closed doors to develop Sydney waterfront


A Bedford, Nova Scotia-based developer has won the right to negotiate a deal that could result in multiple residential and commercial properties on the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s downtown waterfront property in Sydney.

Doucet Developments was selected by the CBRM board in closed meetings — behind closed doors — from three proposals after the municipality issued a request for expressions of interest.

The successful developer is excited to build a “heritage project” that could include four buildings with more than 400 units devoted to residential, office and retail space, as well as parking, said Doug Doucet, CEO of the company that grew up in Westmount, across the harbor from Sydney’s downtown waterfront.

“I feel like we just won the Stanley Cup – and Sidney Crosby won the Stanley Cup – and my crowd is behind me,” he told the CBRM board during a presentation. public at the meeting on Tuesday evening.

The company released what it called “conceptual” drawings at the meeting, showing two six-story buildings in front of the marina, where the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club once stood, and two other five- to 10-story buildings. floors next to the creek that separates the property from the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion.

Doucet said the exact details will be ironed out over the next 12 to 18 months as the developer negotiates a memorandum of understanding with CBRM and gets feedback from the public and potential tenants.

Doug Doucet, right, and Chief Financial Officer Chris Baldwin presented the company’s development plans to the CBRM board on Tuesday evening. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The company has already met with council, staff and other community members, although there has not been a formal council vote to move forward.

“We’ve had a great experience understanding what the community wants, what they need, and we’ll continue to do that,” Doucet said.

“As we move forward in this process, we will continue to have focus groups [and] community meetings where we can actually talk to people and engage people so they feel like they’re part of it. »

This input will also help determine market demand, which will ultimately shape the scope of developments, he said.

Mayor Amanda McDougall said the municipality is excited about the prospect of waterfront development and called the public presentation an opportunity to introduce the successful developer after the expression of interest process.

Discussions on the potential land deal have been held behind closed doors for months, which is permitted under the Municipal Government Act, and will continue away from public scrutiny until a formal agreement is reached, she said.

Only one councillor, Cyril MacDonald, had a public question for the developer, asking if he would be willing to work with the owner of a parcel of land connected to the municipality’s waterfront properties.

Mayor Amanda McDougall says council has had private discussions with Doucet Developments, but once negotiations are complete, an agreement will be made public. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Chris Baldwin, chief financial officer of Doucet Developments, said they would be happy to talk to anyone about the area’s potential.

The mayor said council had already spent a “considerable” amount of time questioning developers, albeit behind closed doors.

“We’re very positive about it,” McDougall said. “It’s exciting. He’s a well-established, local developer, a guy from Westmount, so yeah, that’s good news.

“There is no agreement yet. That is the problem. There was no vote. It was an expression of interest, so everything is quite preliminary.

“Once we know the finer details of what Doucet Developments wants to do, it will all be done in the public domain.”

Marty Chernin had offered to build a residential and commercial building on his land and offered to build a new library for CBRM on his nearby properties, but the council let the deal expire. (Brent Kelloway/CBC)

Sydney’s Harbor Royale Developments, which owns a parcel of land amid CBRM’s waterfront properties, had an exclusive deal to develop the area until recently.

Owner Marty Chernin had proposed to erect a residential and commercial building on his land and offered to build a new library for the municipality on his neighboring properties.

However, last year the council decided it was not ready to build a library and let the agreement with Chernin expire.

CBRM said it received three new proposals in February after issuing a request for expressions of interest, but one was rejected.

Company has ‘strong experience’, says mayor

McDougall declined to discuss the other proposal the board considered before awarding the development rights to Doucet Developments.

Instead, she said the successful company has won over advisers and staff with its slate of developments, including the new Microtel Inn and Suites in Antigonish.

Doucet said he runs several businesses with more than 500 employees involved in real estate, construction and property management, among others, and has willing partners who are willing to invest in Sydney’s waterfront.

“It’s really cool to see this person has a solid and really proven track record in Nova Scotia,” the mayor said.

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