The provincial government is lending a total of just over $8 million to well-known businessman Tim Banks for an expansion of the redevelopment of the former Kays Bros. Building on Queen Street in Charlottetown.
Last year, Island Investment Development Inc. approved a $5.2-million loan to Banks’ company Pan American Properties Inc. for the restoration of the historic property, now called the Welsh Owen building, in the downtown core.
But recently the project has been expanded to include the adjacent parcel of land on the corner of Queen and Water Streets.
As a result, the province has increased its loan amount for the entire project by an additional $2.8 million to a total just over $8 million.
Banks says tenants for most of the building’s future capacity have already been signed, which he expects will bring more than 200 jobs to the city.
“We’ve signed a major public electronics company to the building, and ourselves, APM, are moving our properties division and condo business down to that building,” Banks said.
Campbell Lea, Barristers and Solicitors, have also signed on as tenants.
Innovation Minister Allen Roach says projects such as these are ideal for the provincial lending agency to support, as they help to grow the economy and create jobs.
“When you put up a new and modern building on a corner like that, it certainly does have the potential to attract local and some regional and some national tenants,” Roach said.
“As a government, we continue committed to supporting existing growth in Charlottetown as well as in rural P.E.I. We definitely want to see the attraction of buisnesses and new businesses in P.E.I. and with a structure like this, it’s certainly what we want.”
When asked why he approached the province for financing rather than a bank, Tim Banks said private lending institutions would not loan such large sums of money in P.E.I.
“There’s just nobody loaning that kind of money in our marketplace,” Banks said.
He also pointed to multiple past capital projects for which he received loans from the province and paid back in full.
“What I’d like to say to anybody who has an issue with it — they can do it themselves too. I’m putting my money behind the project and I’m doing it within the rules that are set out by Finance P.E.I.,” Banks said.
“And you know what the good news is? There’s going to be over 250 people working in downtown Charlottetown when it’s finished and it’s going to create a significant tax base for the city and it’s going to create some choice for Islanders to stay here and get a job from a company that’s going to provide hundreds of them in the technology sector … If the government is not there to foster that, it’s an empty parking lot and a dilapidated building.”