Big Changes Coming To Stewart Avenue Properties in Nanaimo

May 8, 2023

Harris Group And Partners Planning Marina Upgrade

Tony Harris of the Harris Group of Companies

NANAIMO – The new owners of the Stone’s Boatyard and The Marine Store Chandlery, together with Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School are excited about the forthcoming changes to waterfront lands along Stewart Avenue.

The purchase of these businesses by Tony and Mike Harris of the Harris Group of Companies, Ken Schley of Kelland Ventures and a founder and former owner of Quality Foods, and long-time Finning Canada Major Account Manager Andrew Babuin follows a 2021 transaction which saw Tony Harris, Schley and Snuneymuxw First Nations’ (SFN) Petroglyph Development Group in a partnership to purchase the former Bluenose Marina & Chowder House, Evening Cove Oysters and Iron Wok site at 1340-1370 Stewart Avenue, setting in motion a major redevelopment of the waterfront site.

“We have completed the in-water demolition and kick off construction of Nanaimo’s premier marina with nine, 75-130 foot boat sheds and several hundred feet of open-air moorage complete with a new seawall and parking areas,” states Tony Harris. “Phase Two is an over-water restaurant and redevelopment of the upland properties. This will establish a new standard for redevelopment on Stewart Avenue and help to reinvigorate the neighborhood.”

Harris built LEGASEA in Departure Bay, a mixed-use building that is also home to Drip Coffee|Social that won the Judges Choice award for Best Overall entry in the 2019 Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. The sensitivity and complexities of developing on the Snuneymuxw’s traditional village site in Departure Bay resulted in a strong relationship between SFN and Harris.

This set the stage for a business partnership between the parties, with the next step being the Stewart Avenue marina development. Harris is a collaborator and is also developing a 60,000 square foot office building at the corner of Turner and Uplands and a 160-unit apartment building project near Metral Drive in Nanaimo both in partnership with District Group. Harris has two projects of similar scale underway in Parksville.

All four developments will be formally announced in 2023.

“Partnering with SFN is a dream come true for me. Partnerships of any kind must be built on a foundation of trust and respect and I am grateful to share this with Chief Mike Wyse and the broader SFN leadership along with Petroglyph CEO Ian Simpson,” Harris adds. “Being business partners in the marina development is exciting, and we’re all looking forward to getting this one right and expanding the relationship from there.”

Harris adds that the Petroglyph Developments’ recent purchase of Sealand Market dovetails nicely into the entire vision for the neighborhood.

“They recently secured permits from the City of Nanaimo to re-imagine the Sealand Market site, including resurfacing the parking lot, landscaping, new lighting. The buildings will be entirely re-clad and re-demised,” Harris notes. “Our marine store is accessed through that plaza. It will be reinvigorated, and the mix of new tenants in the development will be a benefit to the community at large. Nanaimoites and visitors alike have waited a long time for this part of the city to reach its potential and we feel these are all steps in the right direction.

“The future is bright for everything marine-related on Stewart Avenue and we’re excited to be part of that revitalization; we are passionate Nanaimoites and participants in the marine community,” Harris says. “Our Dad (Tom Harris) had us out on the water from the time we can remember, spending days out and around Nanaimo, or down at Mudge and the Gulf Islands. We love boating and we love business so it is exciting to combine these two passions.”

By Mark MacDonald



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