The developer strikes back
McCrea says Heritage Trust is spreading "misinformation’
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Mon. Aug 11 - 4:46 AM
(Ted Pritchard / Staff)
A veteran Halifax developer who helped create Historic Properties is striking back at a local heritage group for what he calls misinformation about his latest development proposal.
Much like the award-winning design for Armour Group’s Founder Square, its Waterside Centre proposal would connect six existing buildings where Duke Street meets Hollis and Upper Water streets, save their historic facades and put a six-storey glass office tower above them.
Over the Natal Day weekend, Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia members set up in downtown Halifax, handing out postcards titled Save Halifax’s Historic Properties!
The postcards, addressed to Halifax’s mayor and councillors, say that Armour plans to "completely demolish two buildings . . . and to mostly demolish three other buildings in the central block of Historic Properties."
"Armour proposes to construct a nine-storey modernistic building attached to remnants of the existing buildings."
The postcard asks readers "not to allow the destruction of these buildings" and asks them to sign the card and submit it as part of a petition.
Using that method, the group reached out to 683 people. Last week, the group submitted all of their names to regional council as part of its protest.
However, the card’s statements are "inaccurate and misleading," Armour Group chairman Ben McCrea wrote in a letter to councillors and Mayor Peter Kelly. "They are intended to be (a) headline-grabbing reference to demolition of heritage buildings which will result in a substantial number of e-mails and phone calls to members of council," he wrote in his letter, a copy of which was sent to The Chronicle Herald.
"The misinformation has been presented by members of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia to the residents so as to entice their signature. The purposeful sensationalism of the petition presented and the statements of Mr. (Phil) Pacey to the media are an unprofessional way for the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia to conduct itself," Mr. McCrea wrote.
Mr. Pacey is the heritage group’s president.
One of the buildings was not considered for heritage designation and "cannot be upgraded or incorporated" into the new plan at Waterside Centre, Mr. McCrea wrote.
"It is an obsolete, wood-framed building that cannot be viably incorporated into the redevelopment," said a city staff report written a few months ago.
It will be demolished under an existing permit in the near future.
Restaurants such as O’Carroll’s and Subway could go back into their current locations, but the buildings will have upgraded walls, wiring and footings.
The work is necessary because the buildings, especially the one housing O’Carroll’s, are old. The Irish pub and restaurant, in fact, sits on 80-year-old wooden pilings.
Mr. McCrea said in a recent interview with The Chronicle Herald that the plan to connect the buildings is necessary to make them viable.
"We’re doing the best we can to avoid having boarded-up buildings or a parking lot," he said in an interview, noting the $1.5-million cost of the restoration.
"We’re just trying to bring our heritage past into a modern, urban core, with sustainable economic development."
Regional council was set to make a decision last Tuesday whether to send the proposal to a public hearing, but a lengthy meeting forced council to defer the issue until this week.
’The misinformation has been pre sented by members of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia to the residents so as to entice their signature.’
BEN McCREA Developer