SYDNEY, N.S. — A patch of ground once famous for serving up Golden Gobblers, cheeseburgers and big breakfasts continues to cook up interest from potential investors looking to develop new business opportunities there.
Recently, there have been three developers scanning the former Jaspers’ Restaurant site in downtown Sydney and even a meeting last week with property owner Craig Boudreau, who confirmed the interest in the site, but could say little else out of respect for the delicate nature of the negotiation process.
“They’ve looked at a number of potential development sites,” he said about a recent potential developer. “They’ll narrow it down with the real estate department. And still, that’s a big company, so I don’t know how long that process will take.”
While there has definitely been plenty of interest in the former Jasper’s property that now serves as a parking lot, Boudreau said there is a general growing sense of interest in developing other areas downtown as well.
“I think it’s got a lot to do with upcoming infrastructure,” he said, in reference to things like the construction of the Marconi Campus and expansion of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, and other projects.
“You are talking we are getting close to a $1 billion in infrastructure. There’s a lot of spinoff that goes with that during the construction period and then following construction as well.”
Interest in downtown development has been on the rise over the past number of years, according to Michelle Wilson, executive director of the Sydney Downtown Development Association.
“Just after that announcement that NSCC was moving downtown, that was November 2017, we had over 10 properties sell in 2018, which is fantastic,” she said.
“There’s still more talk about other things, people wanting to be downtown, and I’m hearing about people that want to be developing downtown and put buildings up.”
Conversations in the community are about national and international interest in developing downtown, she said.
Young local people who have developed businesses, such as the Middle Ground Market, Boysenberry Boutique and Cafe and Fired Creations, are also reason for optimism, she noted.
“It’s an exciting time for sure, from my perspective.”
As for Boudreau, his company. J. Francis Investments Ltd., owns five office buildings in the downtown Sydney area, including a professional building on George Street he recently purchased.
Except for a few empty offices, they are all essentially full.
“I believed in the future of Cape Breton,” he said. “None of the buildings were for sale so I had my real estate agent reach out to all of the previous owners and in each case we were able to arrive at a mutual agreement and I made the purchase.”