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  #201  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 3:06 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
The Roy Building does not go anywhere near Hollis. It backs on Granville and that entire side has been shedding chunks of its facade for 15 years or more, to the point where a permanent gallery had to be constructed over the sidewalk to protect pedestrians from injury. In that context reusing the existing brick seems foolhardy. The building itself is nothing special and would require a total interior gut in order to be competitive.
Oh yeah, Granville, that's what I meant. My mistake. Same thing though—two frontages.

Regardless, the building shedding chunks of its facade says a lot more about the quality of the ownership than the quality of the building, given that it's been standing up to hurricanes and the freeze-thaw cycle for well over a hundred years, much of that time sufffering at the hands of indifferent ownership. I don't imagine the Keith Building is in much better shape, but there's no demo plan for that (though if someone doesn't step up and fix the damn thing...).

If it requires a total interior gut, that's what it takes—and I bet, a few years down the line, that Starfish could be charging top dollar for offices or condos in it. What's really offensive is that they'll probably try to take advantage of the heritage cachet with a flimsily constructed knock-off of the original facade and brand it "The Roy" or some nonsense.
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  #202  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 3:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Nifta View Post
Keith, are you becoming our resident forum troll? I shan't feed you with any comment.
If he has stated something as fact that you don't think is true, I think you should speak to that. If he's stated an opinion, he is entitled to it.

As for my opinion, I like the Roy Building - especially the Granville St. side. It's such a subtle mix of brickwork styles; it looks like it has a very interesting history that can't really be reproduced in a new build. That said, it is obviously in terrible disrepair and I realize it may not be feasible to restore it, but I would prefer that if at all possible. I get much more excited about developments that fill in (mostly) empty spaces, such as Nova Centre, the Bank of Canada tower or just about anything concieved for the waterfront. Also developments that restore / upgrade nice older buildings such as Barrington Espace across the street.
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  #203  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 4:08 PM
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If I remember correctly, the whole building was not constructed in the 19th century. I believe that there were only 2 or 3 floors constructed then, the rest has been added on over time. It gives a weird look to the building if you ask me. I think the latest addition was in 1926 or 1928. To me it is just a red brick building, nothing too special if they rebuild say the original 2 story facade and make it look really nice I would be okay with that.

In regards to Keiths comment about the building falling apart. It is! And these old buildings are not useful at all for modern businesses. I think it should be torn down and rebuilt.
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  #204  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 4:32 PM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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Keith, are you becoming our resident forum troll?
Became. Long ago.
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  #205  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 4:37 PM
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I don't like the Roy project very much either, although I don't have a lot of ideas for fixing up the existing building.

With Espace nearing the end of its renovations (sometime this year?!), let us see if a new Roy Building rendering will be released to give us more detail about what is to come.
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  #206  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 5:31 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by DigitalNinja View Post
In regards to Keiths comment about the building falling apart. It is! And these old buildings are not useful at all for modern businesses. I think it should be torn down and rebuilt.
Dude, please go to London, NYC, San Francisco, Montreal, or MOST of the world's cities, and tell them that the block-upon-blocks of intact 18th and 19th-century structures that comprise their most sought-after real estate are "not useful at all." For that matter, tell the other business owners on Barrington who seem to be using them just fine as offices, restaurants, bars, etc.

Seriously, where does this idea come from? It's easily disproven, yet constantly invoked by anyone who wants to tear something down: "Oh well, it was nice once, but now it's obsolete because, uh, air conditioning, or something." Ridiculous.

EDIT: The other thing is: Can you imagine if they tear down the building, and then the local or national economy takes a tumble, stalling the project indefintely and leaving us with a half-block sized hole on Barrington for years to come? Disaster.

Last edited by Drybrain; Feb 1, 2013 at 6:35 PM.
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  #207  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2013, 6:06 PM
JET JET is offline
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I like the Roy bulding, and go there when I have business. I do believe that if someone wants to tear it down, they will. Falling down bricks is an easy fix, but only if you want to maintain the building. It is a lovely old building inside, not many are left that are like it.
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  #208  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 1:47 PM
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This is sad, I really always thought they were going to approach this the same way they did espace. I think the comment on businesses not wanting this space is a valid one. But right now Halifax has a lot of other sites it can use for redevelopment and office space. This would be a perfect residental building, re-done on the inside. It definitely would make for a great loft building. Regardless of the aditions over the years, I think it just adds to it's character.
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  #209  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 4:17 PM
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Originally Posted by gm_scott View Post
This is sad, I really always thought they were going to approach this the same way they did espace. I think the comment on businesses not wanting this space is a valid one. But right now Halifax has a lot of other sites it can use for redevelopment and office space. This would be a perfect residental building, re-done on the inside. It definitely would make for a great loft building. Regardless of the aditions over the years, I think it just adds to it's character.
Indeed, all the additions and add-ons have given it a sort of layered look--you can see the history of the city's development right there in the jumbled facade.

Add some businesses did want to be there--the smaller start-ups and low-end outfits that Starfish evicted. ( have nowhere to go if there isn't some supply of Class B office space, which is basically the free market's small-business incubator. We all want to attract big companies with our big fancy officer towers, but most cities of Halifax's size do better cultivating home-grown success stories.)
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  #210  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 6:28 PM
fenwick16 fenwick16 is offline
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One question with an old building such as the Roy building is whether it can even be brought up to the current building code. Most likely the walls and floors can't meet any current fire ratings without demolishing it and completely rebuilding it with concrete and steel. The floors are likely wood construction with possibly interconnected floor joists that would allow a fire to spread from apartment to apartment.

It is one thing to do interior renovations but if a building can't meet building codes then it could be a death trap. Major fires and loss of lives was common back in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Luckily with current building codes, such major mid-rise and high-rise building fires are a thing of the past.

I think the Roy Building project should proceed so that it is a practical, safe new structure.
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  #211  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 9:27 PM
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Originally Posted by fenwick16 View Post
Most likely the walls and floors can't meet any current fire ratings without demolishing it and completely rebuilding it with concrete and steel.
I have no idea where that logic comes from--by that reasoning, every single post-and-beam commercial building in the country (of which there are thousands, housing God knows how many people and businesses) is unsafe. I guess Old Montreal, Gastown, and our own Historic Properties must be deathtraps-in-waiting? Except, of course, they're not. A well-renovated Roy with sprinklers and fireproof insulation would be as safe as any other similarly sized structure in the city. In fact, a heavy timber building with a brick facade is probably a lot less susceptible to fire than the wood-framed gypsum-board throw-ups happening all over the country's suburbs. (B.C. has recently approved six-storey wood-framed buildings, so there you go.)

The destructiveness of fires in decades and centuries past had more to do with un-sprinklered buildings, less advanced firefighting techniques, and gas-and-candle lighting than with structural issues. Properly maintained, building codes are not an issue at all with a structure like the Roy; it's just another way to weasel out of preserving the structure.
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  #212  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2013, 10:11 PM
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Yeah, the "firetrap" argument isn't very convincing when there are so many other North American cities with such large stocks of similar heritage buildings. It is really just a question of priorities. Traditionally in Halifax heritage preservation has been given a relatively low priority or has been co-opted by special interest groups who wanted to preserve views or prevent the construction of new buildings. There has also been a big bias toward "quaint" buildings rather than the buildings that have the most impact on the city's character.

One of the big problems with the Roy redevelopment is that we don't really know what it will look like or what level of quality it will be built to. We don't really know when it will be demolished or how long it will take for a replacement building to go up. Starfish has done a lot of good downtown but they have also made some poor, insensitive decisions at times by painting over Morse's Teas and kicking tenants out of Barrington's largest storefront, leaving a gaping hole for years.

I dislike the whole idea of demolishing and rebuilding on heritage sites when there are so many empty lots. It may make sense from a property owner's perspective but it doesn't make sense from a city building perspective. Thankfully there are many other construction projects happening and most of them are on previously empty or underused lots.
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  #213  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2013, 4:33 AM
fenwick16 fenwick16 is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
I have no idea where that logic comes from--by that reasoning, every single post-and-beam commercial building in the country (of which there are thousands, housing God knows how many people and businesses) is unsafe. I guess Old Montreal, Gastown, and our own Historic Properties must be deathtraps-in-waiting? Except, of course, they're not. A well-renovated Roy with sprinklers and fireproof insulation would be as safe as any other similarly sized structure in the city. In fact, a heavy timber building with a brick facade is probably a lot less susceptible to fire than the wood-framed gypsum-board throw-ups happening all over the country's suburbs. (B.C. has recently approved six-storey wood-framed buildings, so there you go.)

The destructiveness of fires in decades and centuries past had more to do with un-sprinklered buildings, less advanced firefighting techniques, and gas-and-candle lighting than with structural issues. Properly maintained, building codes are not an issue at all with a structure like the Roy; it's just another way to weasel out of preserving the structure.

"Deathtrap" might have been a poor choice of wording. Buildings such as the Roy Building are probably no longer deathtraps because of the wide spread use of smoke detectors that give people early warning and allow time to vacate buildings.

Based on your statement - "Properly maintained, building codes are not an issue at all with a structure like the Roy; it's just another way to weasel out of preserving the structure" you are indicating that the Roy Building is constructed in such a way that it is up to today's standards since you indicate that it is "not an issue at all". Modern buildings aren't just protected by sprinklers but are also compartmentalized by fire-rated walls and floors. Plumbing and wire service penetrations require fire barriers. Does the Roy Building have sprinklers? (maybe, I just don't know). Are the units protected by fire-rated walls and floors? (probably not, if it was built in the early 1900's). If the Roy Building isn't built to today's standards then any significant fire could result in the loss of the entire building.

Even multi-unit, attached town-homes currently require fire walls between units. Such was not the case when the 5173 South Street apartment building caught fire at one end and spread throughout the shared floor joists. The NFB fire destroyed the entire building in spite of modern day fire fighting techniques.

Since there is a developer who is willing to take a chance and rebuild a facade similar to the old facade (but with more practical floor heights) then I think it should be encouraged. However, the design of the highrise addition could certainly be improved, in my opinion. The Heritage Trust was mainly opposed because of the height of the new development (source - http://www.htns.ca/pdf/BarrSt/RoyMPSPlcsM011.pdf ). The height of the new development doesn't bother me; it has a significant stepback from the proposed Barrington Street brick facade and will be a big improvement over the current unsightly building, in my opinion.

Getting back on topic, the Espace was essentially a rebuild and would be required to meet current building codes.
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  #214  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2013, 2:59 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by fenwick16 View Post

Based on your statement - "Properly maintained, building codes are not an issue at all with a structure like the Roy; it's just another way to weasel out of preserving the structure" you are indicating that the Roy Building is constructed in such a way that it is up to today's standards since you indicate that it is "not an issue at all"
No sir, I'm not saying it's constructed to “today's standards,” I'm saying it's not required to be built to those standards. Building codes that apply to new construction don't apply retroactively to old buildings. That would be impossible—it would require every building in the province to be renovated or even rebuilt every time a change is made to the building code. It's illogical on the face of it.

Have you ever been to London, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, NYC, Montreal? Do you imagine that the old structures that serve their central cities have been rebuilt from the inside out to match new building codes? They haven't, and yet how often do you hear of any terribly destructive fires in those cities? Exactly. What you're saying just doesn't make sense. (Espace wasn't rebuilt inside for safety issues, it was to change the internal layout.)

Besides, I'm not remotely convinced that new building codes are such wonderful guarantors against fire. I grew up in Alberta, and whenever I go home, it seems that another massive condo inferno has engulfed a brand-new structure: In 2009, then in 2010, then 2011, then a few months ago. (One was caused by a lightning strike, the same thing that took out the NFB.) That first video really gives a sense of crummy matchstick "modern" construction. Maybe it's an Alberta problem, but those buildings burned, and fast.
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  #215  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2013, 6:16 PM
fenwick16 fenwick16 is offline
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No sir, I'm not saying it's constructed to “today's standards,” I'm saying it's not required to be built to those standards. Building codes that apply to new construction don't apply retroactively to old buildings. That would be impossible—it would require every building in the province to be renovated or even rebuilt every time a change is made to the building code. It's illogical on the face of it.

Have you ever been to London, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, NYC, Montreal? Do you imagine that the old structures that serve their central cities have been rebuilt from the inside out to match new building codes? They haven't, and yet how often do you hear of any terribly destructive fires in those cities? Exactly. What you're saying just doesn't make sense. (Espace wasn't rebuilt inside for safety issues, it was to change the internal layout.)
You're are confusing two different issues. Buildings can be left in their original condition and not require updates to the current building codes (although some important fire safety codes are applied even to old buildings). Old buildings can be painted and minor renovations can be made without having to restore the building to the current building code. However, most jurisdictions do require that buildings be brought up to the current building code when major renovations are made, such as being done to the Espace and Waterside.

Do you think that the renovation of the Fenwick tower will be based on the 1970's building codes, which existed when it was built?

In the city that I live in (in the Greater Toronto Area) even modifications of the kitchen and addition of rooms in the basement require building permits and inspections, and I live in a basic detached home.

Last edited by fenwick16; Feb 3, 2013 at 8:19 PM. Reason: my spelling: should be you're not your
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  #216  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2013, 8:06 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by fenwick16 View Post
Your are confusing two different issues. Buildings can be left in their original condition and not require updates to the current building codes (although some important fire safety codes are applied even to old buildings). Old buildings can be painted and minor renovations can be made without having to restore the building to the current building code. However, most jurisdictions do require that buildings be brought up to the current building code when major renovations are made, such as being done to the Espace and Waterside.
Maybe you don't understand me. I'm saying the Roy should NOT be rebuilt. It should be renovated--perhaps as a Class-B counterpoint to Espace and the Nova Centre, a cheaper option for small companies and start-ups, akin to Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation. A business and/or tech incubator, which Halifax desperately needs, but aren't getting because we're so obsessed with attracting global companies (which will come, btw, not due to tax breaks and convention centres, but when they see a strong pool of local talent and homegrown innovation, the kind of thing that old buildings encourage. Where's New York's Silicon Alley? The Lower East Side, not the midtown office towers).

I worked in Toronto a couple of years ago in a circa-1880 factory converted to office space for a media company. Beautifully renovated building, new wiring, plumbing, etc, but still had the original floors, ceilings, walls, etc. It was not gutted or rebuilt, and there was no plan to do so. It was re-used space, floor joists of doom and all.

Lastly, Espace and Waterside are not renovations. They're new buildings that use the old buildings as an aesthetic band-aid.
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  #217  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2013, 12:21 AM
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You should buy it and do just that, then.

I love it when people tell property owners how to deal with developing their properties.
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  #218  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2013, 5:03 AM
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Its really not up to any of us what codes are applied - it's up to the City in the interpretation of the NS Building Code. The code has different rules for a reno and then a teardown/rebuild. They are even more complicated when it comes to an attempted retention of a heritage building.

My understanding with the Roy situation is that regardless of whether it was a 'renovation' or rebuild; it would be up to the building inspector to attempt to bring it up to code. Because its a 'rebuild' it's easier.

Regardless of whatever we think; the decision on the Roy has been made. I have to agree with Keith, the developer has made the decision on what they are building and the city has agreed. Whether we like it or not; that's what is going to happen. I'd suggest that if we have thoughts on 'what should have been' we make sure that we preface it as a hypothetical discussion.
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  #219  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2013, 1:10 PM
Nifta Nifta is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
You should buy it and do just that, then.

I love it when people tell property owners how to deal with developing their properties.
I know what you mean. I saw someone in the Library thread the other day complaining about things and saying what should be done instead.
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  #220  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2013, 4:44 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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I know what you mean. I saw someone in the Library thread the other day complaining about things and saying what should be done instead.
There isn't really any value to such discussions once the decision and plan are approved and moving forward. It's fine to talk about what if/what could have been; but ultimately once the project is a go - it's a go.

That said, it is completely valuable when a project is still in the planning and pre-approval stage. It's good to hear all sides and all suggestions because something might be said/come up that could be helpful.
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