The CBC is reporting that a local businessperson wants to buy the Reversing Falls Restaurant. The potential buyer is drawn to what he sees as a strong tourist draw.
The Restaurant Plan
One of the interesting tidbits in the story is that the owner of the adjacent restaurant (who brought the Falls Restaurant to his adjacent Boaz building) was guaranteed that the city wouldn’t allow another restaurant at the falls. I can see why the city and owner made the deal (if the owner was going to give up the location, that person would have needed to be given some assurances about competing business not moving in next door).
The City should consider the offer (maybe the million dollar investor makes his plan work, and if not the City could take the building down if it doesn’t meet minimum safety standards). Though the million dollars being offered could come with costs (compensation for the Boaz owner).
The plan seems to be based on the idea that people are seeking out a view of the reversing rapids. Perhaps the interesting history of the building and its foundation once being part of an old bridge has some cache.
If tourists want to be near the falls, would a million dollars spent at Fallsview Avenue create a worthwhile alternate opportunity?
Waterfront Development Master Plan
The plan to do bigger and better things with the Reversing Falls area looks interesting (SJ Waterfront Development Reversing Rapids Master Plan). The plan is undated but says it is based on feedback from sessions in 2008 and 2009.
This plan will takes lots of money and probably won’t happen soon (consider the slow progress on the Coast Guard Site redevelopment).
I personally like Harbour Passage and integrating more paths and information around the confluence of the St. John River and the Harbour would be appealing to me and could be an interesting thing for visitors to enjoy.
What is a City to do?
While there are buildings to save and redevelop that I would pick long before a 1950s vintage restaurant beside an industrial cluster, I haven’t offered the City a million dollars for any of those.
The City needs to look at the pros (money in hand) and cons (perhaps the building is in the way of redevelopment that could maybe happen years down the road) and make a decision about whether or not they need to tear this building down ASAP, or if alternate plans might make sense.