Posted Feb 8, 2008, 2:03 AM
You talkin' to me?
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Halifax, NS
Developer confident project will happen soon
King's Wharf still waiting to resolve a few issues
JOANIE VEITCH - THE WEEKLY NEWS
After nearly three years of talk, it looks as though Dartmouth may soon see some action on the King's Wharf waterfront development project.
Recent discussions between Francis Fares, the developer of the project, Tim Olive of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and senior municipal planning staff, resulted in a "reassessment of the economic impact of this project," Olive said in an interview last week at his downtown office.
The $300 million, multi-phased project is planned for the Dartmouth Marine Slips site and encompasses a 200-room hotel and convention centre, 1,200 condo units and a combined 140,000 square foot commercial and office space over the next five to seven years.
It's a huge project that will not only have a large economic impact on Dartmouth, it will put millions of dollars in to the coffers of HRM, Olive said.
"To put that anywhere in HRM would be valuable, to put it in downtown Dartmouth ... it is the catalyst for our economic future," Olive said. "Everyone's waiting to see something happen on this site."
In the intervening months - and years - since the project was first announced, the lack of progress on development had more than a few people wondering if it was even going to go ahead. Olive said he knows a few property owners in the downtown core of Dartmouth are waiting for something to happen before proceeding with their own redevelopment plans.
"I'm at a loss to understand how it could go on this long without someone at HRM asking what's happening with this project. Up until now it appeared it wasn't a priority from the perspective of HRM senior staff," he said.
While the wait has been frustrating, developer Francis Fares said he appreciates that HRM staff have had a lot to deal with over the past few years. "It's a big project and they've been very busy with other projects ... but I'm feeling very positive there's an effort to make this happen now."
There are still five substantive issues to be resolved before the development goes before council for final approval, however. These issues deal with engineering drawings and view plane restrictions from Brightwood Golf Course.
"There is still work to be done, but those issues can all be resolved fairly easily," Olive said.
The largest issue has to do with vehicular access to the site. The property is adjacent to CN and although HRM owns the land, the rail line runs through it.
To comply with fire regulations, an access road has to be open and clear at all times, which means simply putting a road across the railway tracks is not sufficient and another access has to be built.
"It's an issue that both CN and HRM will have to resolve," Olive said. "The hope is that all those matters will be resolved before the project goes before regional council."
Once the project has gone through council, the next step is begin "bringing to life" the first phase of the project, the condominium development.
"We will begin with the condominiums then build the office and commercial part to support that," Fares said.
Olive, for one, will be very happy when construction actually begins (which Fares estimates will likely be by fall) as he won't be fielding so many questions about the project.
"People want to know about this ... members of the public, the business community ... I'm getting calls all the time on this," he said. "People are very excited about this project."