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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 2:37 PM
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[Halifax] Nova Scotia Power HQ | ? fl | ? m | U/C

A very nice development for the waterfront if you ask me. Construction is slated for the fall! It seems that WZMH Architects are very popular.


Pedestrians walk past the old Nova Scotia Power station on Lower Water Street in Halifax on Thursday. Below is a sketch of the planned changes. (PETER PARSONS / Staff)



NOVA SCOTIA Power Inc. plans to put new life into an old building.

Rob Bennett, president and CEO, said Thursday that the utility will move its corporate headquarters to the former power plant it owns on Lower Water Street in downtown Halifax.

NSP will invest $50 million to $60 million to transform the concrete building into an environmentally sustainable facility.

"We’re thinking outside the box by aiming for a facility that uses state-of-the-art practices incorporating energy-efficient design, construction and building operation," Mr. Bennett told a morning news conference. "But we’re staying inside the box for construction, building no higher, no wider, no longer than the existing structure."

The utility’s corporate offices now occupy 110,000 square feet in Scotia Square, under a lease that will expire in 2011. The new facility will offer about 500 employees the same space, and there will be another 15,000 to 50,000 square feet to lease out and help defray costs.

Various options were considered for new facilities, Mr. Bennett said.

"We compared staying in our existing space or developing other green-field office space within HRM," he said. "This is the lowest cost option for our company and by virtue of that the lowest cost for our customers."

Mr. Bennett couldn’t say what the final cost would be, compared to other options.

The new building will be ready for staff in early 2011.

Nova Scotia Power owns both the power generation plant and the land. The company’s history on the site goes back more than 100 years.

The utility has applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for a 12.1 per cent power rate increase for residential customers, but Mr. Bennett said the cost of the new structure has no connection to the increase being sought.

"The increase that been requested is related primarily to escalating world prices for coal and oil, natural gas and fossil fuels we burn in our plants to make electricity for Nova Scotians," he said.

But customers will get tapped for the cost of the new building.

"When the project is developed it will need to be included in rates, but what’s important about that is it will be less of a rate impact than all of the other alternatives that we considered," Mr. Bennett said.

The new facility, which will conform with HRM’s future vision for the downtown core, will incorporate many environmental features, he said. These include using harbour water for heating and cooling, atriums that provide natural light and an energy-efficient facade.

Lead architect on the project is WZMH Architects of Toronto, and other companies involved are all based in Halifax, including Kassner Goodspeed Architects, Fowler, Bauld & Mitchell, BMR Structural Engineering, M&R Engineering and Design 360, all of Halifax.

The company will soon file a building permit application with Halifax Regional Municipality and a capital work order with the provincial review board, which must approve the project. On-site work will begin this fall.

( tpeters@herald.ca)
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 3:02 PM
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Approved? I would think it should be considered pending as URB still needs to give it the ok.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 4:12 PM
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Looks good to me. Anything is better than that old concrete building. I wonder if they're going to get rid of the little art place next door?
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 5:27 PM
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I put it as approved because it does not need to go for a public hearing and they have already said they would start construction in the fall.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 7:53 PM
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They are looking for 2011 occupancy so I could see this moving ahead fairly quickly. I don't expect that the HRM approval would be a problem. No idea about the URB.

The current building will lose a lot of its starkness, which in a way is kind of charming. The scale and lines of the concrete structure are interesting and will be totally eliminated judging by the renderings. Of course, I think this is all outweighed by the fact that the old power plant contributes very little activity while taking up a very prominent site.

It's nice to see what looks like some kind of patio on the waterfront side of the building. The whole thing needs to be opened up somewhat. Not sure how extra commercial space leased out to retailers or restaurants would fit into their plan and their attempt to get approval from the URB.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 9:29 PM
Phalanx Phalanx is offline
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There was also this

in the Metro today.


Definitely an improvement over what's already there, I'm just not happy about having to pay for it... twice (rate increase to pay for this? Isn't that what they're supposed to do with the profits they're making from the previous rate increases?)
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 9:34 PM
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Definitely an improvement over what's already there, I'm just not happy about having to pay for it... twice (rate increase to pay for this? Isn't that what they're supposed to do with the profits they're making from the previous rate increases?)
That story is completely misleading. You're already paying for their accommodation in Scotia Square and elsewhere. This project is supposed to be the best business case opportunity they have as compared to continuing to lease or building elsewhere. It is not like they get free rent if they didn't do this.

Here's a rendering from allnovascotia.com that looks like they drew it on the back of a napkin...


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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 9:38 PM
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I'm quite aware that they're already paying for accommodations...

They are, however, turning a profit as is, and paying for the lease. What are the odds that they'll drop the rates when the building is paid for? Slim to none. The new building is justified, I just think the rate increase is a money grab.
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Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 10:00 PM
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Have a look at what has been happening to commodity prices over the past few years. Perhaps they could be run more efficiently, but ultimately those have a huge impact on their bottom line since they purchase fuel. Most other major power companies in Canada manage hydro resources (which in my opinion is a little questionable when land acquisition was federal and the Maritime provinces have never been given anything!).
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Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 12:13 AM
Phalanx Phalanx is offline
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I'm aware of what's been happening with fuel, too... I'm not ignorant of how the market or business in general work.

They've already had a couple of recent increases based on rising prices. If that can be justified, fine, raise prices for fuel, not for this.

This isn't a rate hike for the sake of economics, it's a rate hike so they can have a new prestige piece. I have no problem with them building a prestige pieces... I have a problem when they're making us pay for it, though.

It's not a crown corporation operating at subsistence level pricing, it's a publicly held company, which is making a profit, which has a process for addressing rising fuel prices, which has other means of funding this than dumping it onto our backs.
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Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 1:22 AM
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You're assuming a rate hike will occur because of this building. You fail to assume that the same type of hike would have taken place the next time their lease renewal comes due. Frankly, there is no guarantee that ANY rate hike will be attributed to their office space.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 1:52 AM
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I'm not failing to assume anything. I'm pointing out that they have other means of paying for new accommodations, whatever they may be. Stocks, bonds, current and future profit made on fair market prices. Is that really too much to expect?
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Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 2:18 AM
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I'm not failing to assume anything. I'm pointing out that they have other means of paying for new accommodations, whatever they may be. Stocks, bonds, current and future profit made on fair market prices. Is that really too much to expect?
And I'm saying that their rates are set by the URB according to a formula. Some things are included, some things are not.
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Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 8:49 AM
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Bonds? You realize those have to eventually be paid back, with interest?

Your line of reasoning here just isn't solid. The bottom line is that this development is being offered up as the low-cost scenario for Emera. They need some kind of office space and currently they lease it from the private sector. By owning a building they avoid the lease so it's potentially a neutral or positive proposition in terms of their bottom line. This development could also be particularly cost-effective for them as they are renovating a building they already own but do not use. Judging by the rendering I would not call the development a "prestige piece".

As for the rate hike, it's much larger than what would be needed to finance this building even if 100% of the building's cost resulted in new net expense, which as stated above is not the case.
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Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 4:45 PM
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Again, I'm not an idiot. I know that bonds have to be paid back, but again, they're making a profit. There are plenty of other companies that build new buildings without dumping it on the backs of their customers. And yet again, I'm not debating the merits of a new building or not. See above. I -like- the building. I'm debating the methods they're using to finance it.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jul 5, 2008, 10:35 PM
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I don't understand the argument? What's bad about the way they are financing it? It's the same way they finance their lease now in Scotia Square, expect in the long run it will be a much smaller cost. The rate hike has nothing to do with this new building.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2008, 12:01 AM
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It's not related to the pending rate hike, but Rob Bennett is on record as saying that it will be factored into future rate hikes.

http://www.novascotiabusinessjournal...=149861&sc=107

I understand that they have to pay for a building, I understand that using their own property is better than leasing, but I don't understand why we have to pay for the renovations when they're perfectly capable of paying for it themselves.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2008, 12:17 AM
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Just a second here.

Emera is the parent company of NSPI correct. Emera is building the building. Therefore Emera will be renting the building to NSPI. Thats the business case.

Now lets get that concrete eye sore fixed up and push Halifax into the 21st century finally.
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  #19  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2008, 12:34 AM
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Just a second here.

Emera is the parent company of NSPI correct. Emera is building the building. Therefore Emera will be renting the building to NSPI. Thats the business case.
Actually I read it will be the other way around. Emera will be a tenant of NSPI.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2008, 12:35 AM
phrenic phrenic is offline
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Anybody know approximately how much office space will be left vacant by NSP in Scotia Square? I wonder if that would have any negative impact on the ability of upcoming projects to attract tenants.
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