SAINT JOHN -- A vacant and dilapidated building owned by J.D. Irving Limited is at the centre of a controversy.

It's located in one of Saint John's historic districts and some city councillors want to know the company's plan for the property – a boarded-up building in a state of limbo.

"I think the biggest thing is, we'd like to see a plan from the property owner," said Saint John Coun. David Hickey.    

J.D. Irving Limited has its headquarters right next door and some city councillors are now calling for the company to take action to address the building.    

"We'd like to see a plan from J.D.I. that says here's how we're going to maintain this heritage building that's in the King Street East Heritage District in order to maintain the uniqueness of the neighbourhood," Hickey said.

The company bought the property in 1996 and in 2016 approached the heritage board about demolishing it to make way for more parking.

J.D. Irving Limited also proposed building a green space and a memorial monument for the church that used to be on the site.

That plan was denied.

Back in May 2018, the city of Saint John sent a notice to J.D. Irving that the vacant building was dilapidated and posed a safety hazard to the public.

"We would have applied at that time for the permit to demolish the structure, and roughly 60 days later in July, that request was denied," said J.D. Irving Ltd spokesperson Mary Keith.

The company says it doesn't have any immediate plan for use of the site and is not looking to sell the property. 

"Right now, I guess, we're not in a position where we're able to demolish the structure," Keith said. "We do know that it's beyond repair. So now, we wait."

But with recent high-profile demolitions in the city core, Hickey says at some point, council has to put its foot down.

"Our heritage assets are a value to the city, our heritage assets are a value to both the residents and the tourists of the city and we need to make sure that developers and property owners have a plan to deal with them," Hickey said.