By Matthew Morgan 
BELLEVILLE – With the promise of hundreds of jobs, a major retail development is being proposed for a site on Bell Boulevard, just west of the Shorelines Casino , a city staff member said Monday.
Rod Bovay, Belleville’s director of engineering and development services , told QNet News the Rice Group , a developer based in the Greater Toronto Area, is looking to purchase a 40-acre property that is currently owned by JenLand Properties  of Belleville.
The proposed development would see about 20 new retail outlets, Bovay said.
“We anticipate, if it moves forward, they’ll look to start construction later on this year and probably you’ll see various businesses on the property opening starting in 2020,” he said.
Rice Group and JenLand Properties both said on Tuesday that they would not reveal any specifics on the development plans.
Officials from companies did confirm that negotiations are underway and development plans are before the city.
If the project is approved, one Rice Group official said, it could be great for Belleville.
“We look forward to the decisions from (Belleville council’s) planning advisory committee and city council in the next couple of months,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The realtor selling the property, who is also the owner of Jenland Properties, said he is very excited.
“I think it’s definitely positive for that area,” said John Belanger.
Bovay said the city received an application from Rice Group last week that included plans for the development of 330,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space.
Council’s planning advisory committee will be looking over the application in March, he said. If the committee approves going forward with the development, it would still need to get the green light from the council in April.