Halifax waterfront projects in works
Sat. Jan 9 - 4:46 AM
IT SHOULD take another couple of years before the Queen’s Landing development proposed for the Halifax waterfront could begin construction, even though the idea was announced back in 2005.
Colin MacLean, president and CEO of the provincially owned Waterfront Development Corp. Ltd., said his organization is working in conjunction with private developer Armour Group Ltd. on a feasibility study to determine whether the idea is still a good one.
The 2.8-hectare site is located on Lower Water Street, bordered by Sackville Landing and Cable Wharf.
The Queen’s Landing plans call for combining a permanent home for HMCS Sackville (Canada’s Naval Memorial), expansion of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and a commercial development complex.
The original plans included "destination-oriented" retail and entertainment areas and a 250-room, four-star hotel complex with convention space.
There would also be about 120,000 square feet of class A office space created and 70,000 square feet of either residential or commercial space.
Although there are concerns about future demand for office space and hotel rooms, MacLean said he’s feeling quite positive about the estimated $200-million project proceeding.
In a conversation earlier this week, Armour Group chairman Ben McCrea said the start of construction on Queen’s Landing is delayed until a replacement for the biosciences building at 1718 Lower Water St. is built on the Dalhousie University campus.
"We did enough negotiations on the HRM by Design that we think Queen’s Landing is going to be all right under it," McCrea said.
He estimates it should take a couple of years before construction begins and, in the meantime, he’ll be concentrating on building his Waterside Centre at 1864 Upper Water St., not far from where Queen’s Landing would be.
MacLean said the proposal is for a private-public partnership. Armour will have to come up with part of the phased project, while the government financial involvement still has to be determined.
The fact that McCrea is feeling somewhat optimistic about the commercial prospects of Queen’s Landing, MacLean said, makes his organization more comfortable about its role.
"If it makes sense on the private side, then let’s complete the feasibility study and present it for the public side of it."
MacLean said he believes the concept originally put forward by McCrea will make sense.
"And so we’re beginning to feel we can make something out of it."
Meanwhile, there could be two major waterfront projects on the go at the same time in a couple of years. MacLean said Waterfront Development is working with another developer, Ralph Medjuck, chairman and CEO of Centennial Group Ltd., to bring his waterfront project to reality.
Medjuck’s estimated $100-million residential and hotel project slated for the Salter Block — 1.4 hectares near the proposed Queen’s Landing development on Lower Water Street, between Salter Street and Bishop’s Landing — has been in the planning stage since 2004.
MacLean says the developer has brought together a team to design the project to go "somewhat" beyond what the original plan, which had been approved by the municipality.
"Together we’ve been looking at one of the key components for us, which was one acre of public park space, and so we’re looking at designs of that space."
MacLean said the fact that new plans are being developed for the Salter Block is another signal from a developer that they’re feeling more positive about the market outlook.