Finally an update from the CH today, August 25th, 2012
A dig through history precedes real construction
14 hours ago
By REMO ZACCAGNA Business Reporter
Rank Inc. president and CEO Joe Ramia said the first phase of the excavation, an archeological impact assessment, begins Monday morning. (TIM KROCHAK/ Staff)
Work is set to begin on turning the former Halifax Herald Ltd. site on Argyle Street into a $500-million financial complex, more than 2 1/2 years after the last concrete wall and steel beam were torn down.
Light excavation on the two-block site will begin Monday morning.
Developer Joe Ramia, head of Rank Inc., told The Chronicle Herald on Friday that the first phase of the excavation will entail an archeological impact assessment.
“Any property in the heart of historic Halifax has to go through that assessment, and what they look for is any archeological resources that could be on the site,” he said.
It’s not known how long that assessment will take.
It will be followed by a period of massive excavation, with construction expected to begin sometime in the spring.
“We hope that (the excavation) will be around six to eight months — again, depending on what you encounter.”
Ramia announced last month that the project was going forward, after he confirmed that a $164.2-million government-financed convention centre would be the Nova Centre complex’s first tenant.
Plans for the one-million-square-foot Nova Centre include the 290,000-square-foot convention centre and also a financial centre consisting of two 16- to 18-storey office towers fronting on Argyle Street, a 16- to 18-storey luxury hotel fronting on Grafton Street and residential, retail and public space.
Construction is expected to be substantially completed by Dec. 31, 2015.
Ramia said the goal is to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, the highest level.
“Whenever you work with LEED, everything that you do, you have to consider the environment, you have to consider the sustainability, you have to consider all the things, or you would lose the LEED certification,” he said.
Ramia said the designation would not have been possible had they imploded the former Herald building in 2010.
“When we tore the building down, we had to save everything — the concrete, the steel, all that, we had to do,” he said.
Another component of obtaining LEED gold certification will be creating efficiencies and energy savings by reusing whenever possible.
“A hotel at night requires heating, so we’ll take the cool air out and we’ll store it and we’ll give it heat,” Ramia said. “During the day, an office building requires cooling, so we’ll take the cool (air) that we have saved and we’ll give it to the office, and we’ll take the heat and store and give it to whomever needs it.”
Ramia met with Argyle Street business owners last month to talk about any concerns they might have with construction of the Nova Centre.
Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said the neighbouring owners came away satisfied.
“The biggest concern was simply to know what was going on,” MacKinnon said. “Obviously, there’s concerns about how do we mitigate noise, how do we mitigate dust, and if there is flexibility in the timetable so that the most intrusive work can be done at the slowest time of the year.”
Ramia said a note will be put up on the novacentre.ca website outlining the excavation process.
“It will be posted before Monday stating that this process will begin, and here’s what’s going to happen,” he said.
“Whenever you build, there’s an impact, but we want to try and minimize that impact and work with our neighbours and make sure they’re informed of what we’re doing and what is happening.”
The provincial and municipal governments are contributing $56 million each toward the convention centre with the federal government putting up almost as much to cover the rest of the cost. The towers, hotel and other aspects of the Nova Centre will be privately financed with no government involvement.
The province is to sign a 25-year lease for the convention centre by November.
Argyle Developments Inc., a subsidiary of Rank, will assume all construction costs and risk.
A final design for the project will be unveiled in December after a series of 11 public consultations, seven of which will be in Halifax.
Ramia declined to comment on the status of negotiations in securing tenants for the financial centre.