Mark’s Local Interactions #5
Welcome to Mark’s Local Interactions, a series of blog posts highlighting local businesses. In this edition, I talk to Keith Brideau of Historica.
If you live or work in Saint John, the name Keith Brideau should be very familiar to you. Keith is the driving force behind Historica, a company that is changing the landscape of Saint John.
I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Keith in his office complex at 89 Princess Street – a space that I don’t mind saying is insanely cool … raw, urban, yet very inviting.
And raw and urban is what Keith is all about.
Keith is on a mission – a mission to make Saint John the most liveable and enjoyable place to live.
But let’s step back a bit.
Keith’s first venture into real estate was with a townhouse that he bought for $54,000. He renovated it, mostly with sweat equity, and sold it at a decent profit.
While a few thousand dollars in profit may not sound like much, it was, in Keith’s words. “the biggest deal of his life”. That sale got him hooked on real estate. He went on to repeat his success with a duplex, then a triplex, and then … well, I think you get the point.
Keith then moved on, with the help of some savvy investors, to commercial properties.
It’s a tough go, but then again, Keith is no stranger to hard work. In university, Keith became an Electrical Engineer. But that wasn’t enough. While he was studying for his degree, he was taking MBA level courses at the same time.
Following graduation, Keith landed a job that allowed him insight into how other companies worked, and Keith soaked it all in, gaining more and more business knowledge.
Eventually, his employment led him to trips to Toronto, where he got a glimpse of a thriving urban metropolis – neighbourhoods that were within walking distance to restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, etc. Neighbourhoods that had condos and rooftop patios. Neighbourhoods that had a vibe.
And Keith decided that Saint John could have that same vibe.
In 2008, Historica was born, and Saint John has been feeling the positive vibe ever since. With over 15 projects under his belt, Keith is changing the uptown core of Saint John for generations to come.
One thing I noticed right away about Keith was his focus and drive.
Keith is constantly evaluating himself, always looking to improve on the way things are done. An avid consumer of business articles, Keith keeps abreast of the changes in business, the economy and the real estate market.
Keith is a firm believer that everything starts with a healthy lifestyle, which is why he starts his day with a run or workout. Then it’s off to the office where he takes care of business, which can often take him late into the evening, making sure everything is attended to.
If you’ve ever walked into one of Keith’s buildings, you already know how much care he takes in his renovations and design – exposed brick and revealed ceilings, top quality finishes and fixtures – right down to the gift baskets that his residential tenants receive.
Keith is quick to credit his team of over 25 employees, and of course his wife Margot, who handles Payroll and HR.
While renovating his buildings and giving them a facelift, Keith is passionate about maintaining the history of Saint John. Even the name of his company “Historica”, reflects this.
One only needs to look at a few of his properties – The Aberdeen, named after the Aberdeen Hotel, built in 1878, The General, once the home of the Canadian General Electric Company, and Park Place, now home to Picaroons, Real Food Connections and the Buckland Merrifield Art Gallery, as well as some very cool apartments on the upper floors.
This is just to name a few. To see a full list of his properties, have a look at his website at www.historicadevelopments.com.
Keith lives in Saint John New Brunswick with his wife Margot and his daughters Lauren and Ava.
Mark Pridham is the owner of The Pridham Group, a digital agency based in Saint John, New Brunswick.
A life long resident of Saint John, Mark is passionate about supporting and promoting local businesses.