Halifax group wants council to ‘play by the rules’ regarding proposed development

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A Halifax group is asking council to “play by the rules” in an open letter provided to reporters at a press conference on Monday.

It’s regarding a 29-storey mixed-used building proposed for the corner of Robie Street and Quinpool Road.

Willow Tree Group claimed that the APL Properties (an Armco Capital company) building would negatively impact wind flow and real estate in the area, among other issues.

“Nothing has been demonstrated that that is to the advantage to the city, that there is any particular exciting and new and different reason for having it there. It’s just big,” said group member Grant Wanzel.

Last year, Halifax Regional Council voted for an application to change the bylaw at the site to allow a building of up to 29 storeys, going against what municipal staff recommended.

The municipality has also been working on the Centre Plan, which is a blueprint of sorts for growth in the regional centre.

READ MORE: Massive highrise moves ahead despite city staff recommendations

The draft version of the plan would allow a building of up to 20 storeys on the aforementioned property.

The group wants the developer to follow that, despite the plan not being finalized yet.

“We were initiated, originally, in June 2014 under a legal mechanism that any developer is entitled to. You can’t create a process two years later and say, ‘Now, you’re stopped until we figure this out,”” Adam MacLean, Armco Capital’s director of development and sales, said at the press conference.

He said that a 20-storey building would, in order for it to be worth the investment, have to be wider, subsequently creating more issues involving shadows on the Halifax Common.

The current proposal is thinner and wouldn’t cause shadows as impactful, MacLean said.

“I know it’s taboo to talk about — developer economics. We’re tearing down a fully leased office building that’s got a certain value. We need to not only recover that value but also recover the construction cost that goes into what we’re proposing to build,” he said.

On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Council will determine if a future public hearing on the potential bylaw change will include an amendment that caps the potential development at the site to a height of 20 storeys.

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