AMHERST – The former home of the Amherst Police Department is getting a new lease on life.
Amherst is selling the property vacated the night of the downtown fire in August to JE Bembridge Enterprises for $2. The police department left the building at the height of the Windsor Block fire and moved temporarily to the fire department. It’s now located in the top floor of the Four Fathers Memorial Library.
“I’m looking forward to doing something with the building as soon as we can,” Jeff Bembridge, who owns neighbouring Duncan’s Pub said Wednesday. “Once the agreement is signed you should see activity starting almost immediately.”
Bembridge plans to put a new restaurant in the building. Breakfast at Brittany’s, named for his step-daughter, will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will feature both affordable breakfast specials as well as menu items like Belgian waffles and eggs benedict.
“There is no restaurant that sells breakfast downtown,” Bembridge said.
Bembridge said he will also have room to expand Duncan’s with added lounge seating and a private room. There will also be a large basement area for rent.
He also recently purchased the former Beaver Lumber building just up the street and is cleaning the property up, although he has not determined its future use.
During a special council meeting on Wednesday, Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said the town was prepared to demolish the former police station. After being approached by interested parties, the town directed staff to call for proposals.
Herrett said the town received four proposals that were considered based on price, value of the proposal, strength, qualifications and experience and the timeframe for development to occur.
The town received a $50,000 offer from Partners Global Corporate Real Estate, but Herrett said the company’s proposal called for development over several years, while Bembridge’s timeframe is 90 to 120 days.
NBT Properties Ltd. and Jomar Holdings were the other companies to submit propsals.
“In evaluating the value of the proporal to the town, the RFP document specifically directed us to the potential of increasing assessment and tax revenue,” Herrett said. “The Bembridge proposal was scored higher in this category due to its protential to provide long-term, sustainable commercial tax revenue to the town.”
Mayor Robert Small welcomed the town’s decision, saying it’s good to see the property be redeveloped.
“It’s going to save us the trouble of demolishing it and the costs associated with demolishing it,” Small said. “We’ve often heard downtown businesses say we have to do something to bring business to the downtown. This is a step in the right direction.”
Coun. Robert Angel said Bembridge has a proven track record and the downtown area will benefit from his plans.
“It’s definitely going to generate more traffic in the downtown,” Angel said.