Daniel Martins: Telegraph-Journal

June 8, 2007

New road diverts traffic

Development Mayor praises new shopping area

Mayor Norm McFarlane,
left, and developer
Troy Northrup move a barricade Thursday to officially open Retail Drive, which connects Rothesay Avenue and Westmorland Road.

KÂTÉ LEBLANC PHOTO

SAINT JOHN – Saint John's mayor is hailing the opening of Retail Drive, the city's newest road, as a benefit to the community and a tax boon for the municipality.

Retail Drive connects Westmorland Road and Rothesay Avenue, and will serve the new East Point Shopping complex.

Mayor Norm McFarlane and East Point developer Troy Northrup helped move the last construction barricades off the four-lane road in a brief ceremony. McFarlane said the new road, and the access it provides to East Point, was a boon for the city and would reduce traffic on nearby McAllister Drive, which slices through big box land.

"It's a great addition to the community," McFarlane said. "I think it's going to do a lot to aid in spontaneous shopping and quick and easy access for the consumer, which we've suffered so long for. It's going to do a lot to build and strengthen the tax base for the community and it's just an all around great convenience for everyone."

The city built the $3.5-million road in a public-private partnership with East Point, which will pay back $700,000 of that. But more work is still to come, with McFarlane saying he had been in talks with the provincial government to fund a vital link between the shopping area and the highway. He said he hoped for a favourable announcement within five months.

"I've visited the premier a couple of times, and I can tell you he is listing very close to doing that," McFarlane said. "It's no good to have a shopping mall without an access to a highway. We have to have that ramp off the highway that will make the difference between making money and losing money."

So far, the shopping area has attracted various fashion stores such as Cotton Ginny, Fairweather and Urban Planet. A 118-room hotel, the Hampton Inn, is under construction nearby and is scheduled to be completed by summer's end. East Point developer Northrup said more stores and restaurants would be opening soon.

"This is only the beginning of a number of announcements to come as we work together as a community to raise the quality and the level of retail hospitality and food services for our community," Northrup said.