An article from today Herald. (I'm posting it in both towers respective threads.)
Downtown projects move ahead
21-storey condo development and 19-storey residential building sent to public hearings
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Wed. May 14 - 5:37 AM
It was a big night Tuesday at city hall for two proposed downtown developments after council agreed to send both to public hearings.
The projects are a 21-storey condo Halkirk wants to build on the south side of its Brewery Market property and a 19-storey residential building the W.M. Fares group is eyeing for the corner of Brenton and South Park streets.
While the Fares proposal elicited no debate among councillors, there were a few comments about Halkirk’s $30-million development.
That’s because the building, which had a thumbs-up from city planning staffers, drew some negative response from council’s heritage advisory committee.
That committee and the downtown planning advisory committee assist council by reviewing projects to ensure they fit within the city’s heritage and planning strategies.
Coun. Sue Uteck (Northwest Arm-South End) wondered whether the volunteers who sit on city boards have their responsibilities well outlined to them, especially when the projects are already recommended by city planning staffers.
"When you turn down a positive recommendation from staff, you are supposed to quote the applicable sections of the heritage act or the land-use bylaw or the (municipal planning strategy) that apply to that."
Neither of the advisory board reports on the project did that, she said.
"To me, it’s not the fault of the committees. . . . But if you are going to have a developer, in this particular instance, that has to go the 27 rounds we’d say in golf, then (the committees had) better have some concrete understanding of where they’re coming from before they get to . . . council."
But Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown) said the developer altered his plan within the last week, adding window and balcony bays to what had been a blank, sheer wall on the Bishop Street side.
"He went back and changed it . . . because I wasn’t willing to even take this to the public."
Coun. Patrick Murphy (Halifax North End) wondered whether accompanying multimillion-dollar renovations to Keith Hall, the 1863 mansion built for beer baron and former Halifax mayor Alexander Keith, would include interior as well as exterior building restoration.
While planner Paul Sampson said interior designs were not part of the development agreement, Ms. Sloane explained that original stained glass windows and other architectural features would remain intact.
Another councillor wondered how the new developments would be handled with the city’s downtown planning project, called HRM By Design, in the works.
Although the city has drafted new rules for downtown development through the project, the area is still governed by the old guidelines until council approves and implements the new plan.
That had Coun. Bob Harvey (Lower Sackville) wondering if any decision on the Halkirk proposal would be superseded by the new guidelines.
"It’s going to be a race between public hearings for these amendments and for the Halifax By Design amendments. I mean, which are we going to get first?"
Austin French, manager of planning, said the HRM By Design proposals probably wouldn’t be before council until mid-summer.
The public hearings on both downtown developments will likely be held within the next month.