SAINT JOHN – Keith Brideau isn’t only winning recognition from his peers for turning underdeveloped and underused space on the upper floors of older city centre buildings into ultra-modern apartments for high-end clientele.
“The greatest thing about what I’m doing is I’m getting to live my dream in my own backyard rather than having to go somewhere else to do it,” the Saint John-born and raised founder and vice-president of Historica Developments Inc. said in an interview Tuesday.
“What I’m trying to do is create an urban lifestyle in Saint John that you would see in Halifax, Toronto or any big city in the country,” he said.
“Saint Johners are hungry for that,” he added.
“My objective is to give them what they want, especially
young folks who want to feel they are in a big city. But Saint John hasn’t always given them that opportunity.”
Last year, Brideau, 30, walked off with top honours at Uptown Saint John’s initial Live Life Awards celebration for the best new or renovated residential space. The award was for the 10-unit first phase of Historica Court at 55 Canterbury St.
With Uptown Saint John’s second annual Live Life Awards set for Thursday night, Brideau is pleased as punch to be nominated in the same category for Phase 2 of Historica Court, located in the connecting Pugsley Building at 110-114 Prince William St.
“I’ve renovated the top two floors, converting them from a studio and office space above the Bourbon Quarter and Magnolia Café on the ground floor into five one-, two- and three-bedroom units,” he said.
“I would say they are very clean, professional, modern living spaces with high-end finishes, a harbour view, stainless steel appliances and washer and dryers.”
With more new restaurants and the like uptown, he said, there is more demand for that type of housing than, say, just five years ago.
The key to developing older buildings properly involves blending the character of the buildings with an understanding of market demand and what people want.
Being nominated for an award for what you’ve done is “encouraging and motivational because when you try to do what I’m doing, there is a lot of challenges and resistance and a lot of unforeseen expenses. You kind of feel beat up after awhile, so if you can celebrate a victory during the process, it’s that much more rewarding.”
Finalists have been narrowed down to a shortlist of three in all 12 award categories for Thursday’s 2011 Uptown Saint John Live Life Awards celebration, which gets underway at 6 p.m. in the second-floor White Room at 115 Prince William St.