he company, which has made its name renovating old historic properties in the Saint John city centre, is now looking for tenants to live in Parrtown Place, a building with 25 one- and two-bedroom units.
“A lot of work goes into these buildings and not everybody gets to see the effort and time and investment that goes into a property like this,” says Keith Brideau, CEO of Historica. “For our team to actually see it come together – all the positive feedback that we get from all of our tenants and the people about to move in here on Monday – is pretty remarkable.”
The Parrtown units were designed by Keith’s wife Margot Brideau, and feature sleek black cabinetry, black and white tile bathrooms, and funky gold light fixtures. Taking inspiration from apartment trends in places like Boston and New York, she wanted the Parrtown apartments to look different from the ones Historica has done before.
“As far as the design, I was trying to pick really modern finishes and light fixtures to complement the heritage feel of the exposed brick and beams. Just have that contrast of old and new,” says Margot. “I was trying to set it apart from previous projects. I felt that a few of our last projects were quite similar. Not quite as modern, but more warehouse looking, which was the look we were going for there. I want to give this building a totally different feel.”
“We went higher end. Every time we do a project we try to go a little bit above the last couple of projects,” says Keith. “In this one, we invested a lot more money in kitchen cabinets, the appliances are higher end. We got wine fridges in some of the units … a few other bells and whistles.”
Some of the units feature two bathrooms and skylights. Nine units also have balconies facing Grannan Lane. Units range from $1,300 to $2,500 a month, plus utilities (all units are heated and cooled by heat pumps). The building also has 20 parking spaces. Keith says about 60 per cent of the units are already leased.
“I say in about two, three months max, we’ll be full,” he says.
Though a few have been rented by younger professionals, the majority have been snatched up by the older set, something Keith was planning on.
“We see a lot more baby boomers, people in their 50s and 60s that are downsizing, simplifying, they want to travel a little bit, they don’t want all the headaches that go along with homeownership, so they are looking at a great option to live in for the next 10 years of their life,” he says. “I see uptown as a playground for that generation that now has extra time on their hands that don’t want to own a home anymore, don’t want to have the big back yard.”
He says the demand for higher-end housing uptown will continue to grow.
“Companies like Irving Oil and Cook Aquaculture are bringing in a lot of those professionals as well,” says Keith. “We have 1,100 people up the hill [at the new Irving Oil Headquarter] that are going to move in over the next couple months and it’s only going to feed the residential high-quality spaces that we’re offering.”
As the Parrtown Place project wraps up, Keith says he will soon be focusing on his biggest project yet: the Saint John City Hall building, which he purchased in December with Alex Elias and David Elias for $3-million.
“My real focus over the next 18 to 24 months is turning around City Hall and making that into an awesome property. We’re always looking at new opportunities though. I’m not good at slowing down. I’m always looking to grow our business and looking for new opportunities.”