TRURO - Despite high vacancy rates in Truro, a local developer says finding the right location and fixing up an area that was previously seen as an eyesore can indeed attract tenants.
Meech Holdings Limited recently converted the former St. Mary's Elementary School on King Street into a 26-unit apartment building. The townhouse-style complex – which offers three two-bedroom units, three bachelor units and 20 one-bedroom units – officially opened in October and immediately attracted a mixture of younger and older tenants, said Truro developer Ron Meech.
"As of now (Wednesday) there are two vacant one-bedroom" units, Meech said.
"It's a good mix of people ... seniors, community college students."
In the spring, a study indicated Truro had the highest vacancy rate in the province, at 5.1 per cent.
The market is "fairly close to the saturation point and for the most part I think you need to take serious consideration" of the statistics, said Meech, however, new ventures can be successful because people are "moving from building to building."
Location in a central part of town, with a completely new building and reasonable prices, will attract tenants, Meech said.
As for the school-turned-apartment site, Meech said there are a few things left to complete, including sodding and erecting a fence.
He's also interested in turning a nearby acre of land that he owns, between Dominion and King streets, into a green space.
The area's makeover has been receiving positive reviews from area residents, said Meech. When he was before Truro town council with a proposal for the apartment building in 2010, some residents said the old school was an eyesore and attracted young people who were experimenting with drugs.
"That's not the case at all now. I do have a live-in superintendent ... and I haven't had any complaints. I think (previous complaints) were because the building was vacant" when the school closed after the new Truro Elementary School opened on Curtis Drive in early 2009, he said.