A slightly better article:
19-storey building proposal unveiled
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Tue. Oct 23 - 6:16 AM
A new 19-storey building is proposed for the Spring Garden Road area in Halifax but it’s been kept well under wraps.
"Surprise!" Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown) joked Monday when asked about the development at the corner of South Park and Brenton streets.
The councillor has known about the mixed residential/commercial/office building for a while, but only because a previous design was tried out about a year ago. The earlier proposal for the lot didn’t make it past the downtown planning advisory committee, the group that advises council on proposed downtown developments.
"This is their second kick at the can, I guess you’d say," she said in an interview.
An engineer with W.M. Fares Group said Monday that plans for the building have been in the works for some time.
"We’ve been working on it for a while," Cesar Saleh admitted Monday. "But the reason no one has heard about it publicly is because this is the first step of the public process."
That first step will include council being asked tonight to make changes to planning strategies and land-use bylaws to allow the proposal to go ahead.
Height regulations now limit buildings to 13.5 metres and residential uses are restricted to houses, containing a maximum of four dwelling units, and townhouses.
The proposed building goes higher than the permitted 13.5 metres and features a tower measuring 18 by roughly 43 metres. However, the tower is stepped back about 4.6 metres from the commercial level on the first floor.
Doing the design this way provides a maximum "street line" of nearly eight to nearly 11 metres, Mr. Saleh wrote in a recent letter to the city.
Overall, the residential building would range in height from 13 to 19 storeys and accommodate 80 residential suites. It would also include general commercial on the first floor, offices on the second, and two levels of underground parking accessed from Brenton Place.
In order for council to approve the building, says a staff report, it must first consider creating policies that would differ from many of the planning strategies and land-use bylaws in place for the area. But the staff report says that "many of the objectives expressed with the community municipal planning strategy, such as limiting the impact upon Victoria Park, can be achieved through the building’s design."
Mr. Saleh said it’s necessary to go through the amendment process "because sometimes the policy might be outdated or certain circumstances have changed."
"Especially now, with the HRM By Design, there is a need for both office/commercial and residential space downtown and the city is looking to bring people back into the regional centre to live, where the infrastructure is already (in place)."
If council does consider amending its planning strategy, the public will still have a say. The downtown planning advisory committee will host a future public information meeting, Ms. Sloane said.
She is withholding her own views until then. "I want to hear from the public," she said.