Fredericton / News / City stories
The Waverley, Earl Brewer's new, soon-to-be-completed building on Regent St.

Earl Brewer: Passion With Purpose

Earl Brewer has been shaping Fredericton’s urban landscape since he built his first apartment building while he was still in university. In the intervening years, Barker House, Phoenix Square, Regency Park, Priestman Centre, Regent Place – those are just some of the better-known buildings Brewer has contributed to the city.

And now his latest development is about to welcome tenants: The Waverley building at 81 Regent Street, named after the Waverley Hotel, which was built on the same spot in 1838 and welcomed guests for more than a century. The new office building is almost fully leased and approved in accordance with the City’s downtown Built Form Design Guidelines. The building is well intergrated into the existing street, and incorporates horizontal and vertical brick tiers with stone accents and glazing.

“As a Council we are  guided by the goals of the City Centre Plan, that promote good urban design of buildings and streets which creates an environment that entices people to stay and spend time in our downtown,” said Coun. Bruce Grandy, Chair of the City’s Development Committee.

As this project nears completion, Brewer’s other marquee development will begin construction at 343 Queen Street this summer: The Promenade on Queen, a mixed-use building with commercial tenants on the ground floor and apartments above.

Brewer and his partner John Dixon sold their development business in the early 2000. During the same period, Brewer launched Plaza Corp, which quickly became one of Canada’s leading property owners, developer and managers of retail real estate. Current asset value at more than $1.2 billion, Plaza has 125 employees and 271 properties, 8.4 Million square feet, across the country, mostly in grocery-anchored malls and free-standing commercial concerns, including 80 Shoppers Drug Mart locations.

Despite this astounding success, Brewer keeps coming back to his first love: developing great buildings in his hometown. “It’s rewarding to fulfill a need, to build something of lasting quality that looks good and that people feel good about living and working in,” he said.

Brewer’s passion for real estate is matched only by his devotion to philanthropy. But both sides of his personality are rooted in the same desire to do what needs to be done. Brewer has quietly supported community initiatives and social programs his entire life, his under-the-radar backing providing the lifeblood for worthwhile causes that might otherwise fail.

His latest project: Partnering with 67 New Brunswick schools so far to supply breakfast and or lunch programs. “Our focus these days is on student hunger programs throughout New Brunswick,” he said.

“Students going hungry is a hidden epidemic. So, four years ago we started partnering with schools and communities on what they need to make those programs work. Sometimes it’s infrastructure, other times it’s funding – whatever’s needed. We’ve worked with schools throughout the province – Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, the Acadian Peninsula, Carleton County, Albert County, Westmorland County.  We follow the need.”

Brewer said Fredericton’s growing downtown is part of a nationwide trend toward urbanization. “More people want to live in Canada’s downtown and that’s a trend Fredericton is benefiting from,” he said. “The staff at the City want to build a better Fredericton, they want to serve people well. As a developer, I feel the same way. There’s a steady demand and a steady supply to fill that niche.”

“And when everyone has the same objective – whether you’re talking about real estate development or helping a worthy cause in the community - collaboration is easier and you get things done."