Friday, January 18 2013

It’s not your imagination. A new large apartment building at the corner of Gordon Street and Cameron Street is going up faster than usual, thanks to prefabricated panel construction.

And no, it’s not your imagination about downtown either. Residential construction is growing much faster than usual, the fruition of a decades-old dream of city leaders.
Whether it’s Moncton’s civic leaders or the development experts who have advised them over the years, or just the ordinary folks who see it as common sense, anyone who cares about the success of Moncton’s downtown core has long known it’s not enough to draw businesses and their workers.
For any community to have a vibrant, desirable, functional and safe downtown, people must live in it.
Moncton’s downtown, like many other North American urban cores, had been for decades losing residents instead of gaining them.
Cities grow up, grow outward and then grow old. Fortunately, that demographic wheel in Moncton’s downtown has come almost full circle now, as the past decade has seen increasing numbers of residential buildings springing up all over the heart of the city.
And while the circle hasn’t gotten to the stage that we’re seeing too many young families flocking to the core just yet, that core is paradoxically coming alive as the biggest demographic of all, the baby boomers, grows older.
Retirees are downsizing these days, giving up oversized and empty nests for easier to care for apartments.
And a number of local developers have been busy catering to both empty nesters and the young adults who also want to live downtown.
Two area businessmen, Donald Robichaud and Louis Léger, are doing that dramatically with their new 61-unit apartment complex going up at a blink-and-you’ll miss it pace on Gordon at Cameron streets. Thanks to advances in concrete and construction generally, Robichaud and Léger haven’t worried about the increasingly old-fashioned concept of “construction season,” working right through the Moncton winter.
“We should have the building roof-tight by mid to late February,” Robichaud said yesterday. He said they hope to have the building completed by about mid-June.
Are the partners worried the downtown apartment market might be getting saturated? Not at all.
Six months before the first tenant seems likely to be moving in, and “right now, we’re half full,” Robichaud says.
He confirmed many of their future tenants are retired boomers, attracted by the location, the prospect of a brand new building, and elevators, an important consideration for many.
As for construction now. One floor is up and “by next Wednesday, we’ll have the second floor done,” he says.
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Pre-engineered wall systems increase framing productivity by between 40% and 50%?