Which jury is out?
By DAWN SLOANE
Thu. Apr 24 - 5:44 AM
In Michael Lightstone’s April 18 article on the Cogswell interchange, he quoted a developers’ representative as saying "the jury is out" on whether or not to demolish the Cogswell interchange. Before any jury steps out to render a decision, they should be in possession of all the facts.
The article talks about the cost of the reconfiguration of the interchange, not the economic opportunities this redevelopment will provide to the municipality.
The Cogswell interchange sits on 14.8 acres of land. If knocking down the interchange provided a yield of 80 per cent developable land, this would create 518,000 square feet of salable area. Recently published land transactions in the downtown area indicate a value of approximately $200 per square foot. Therefore, the market value of this redevelopment would be over $100 million – almost 10 times the estimate of the cost quoted in Mr. Lightstone’s article!
Another major factor in favour of redevelopment is the absence of any building height or style restrictions. The interchange is outside the downtown core, which means we won’t have to waste time, energy and money debating whether or not to put tall buildings there! Even Phillip Pacey has no argument with tall buildings in this area.
Another thing to tell the jury is that redeveloping this area is actually a smart idea. For example, most of the required capital infrastructure is already in place. People will be able to live and work in the downtown area without any new expensive infrastructure. That means no need for new buses (at $500,000 per bus) – and certainly no need for a new $1.4-billion bridge. People will actually live and work in a healthy, efficient compact city.
Allow me to make one final summation to the jury. HRM is sitting on an anticipated $80-million surplus. That money could be used to help build a vibrant city core. Imagine a new library, a new convention centre, enhanced green spaces and streetscapes, a new municipal museum – even a new hockey rink next to the Centennial Pool. The incremental tax revenue without any corresponding capital budget deficit will continue to subsidize services to all of HRM for years to come.
Now, let’s send the jury out to make an informed decision – and move on with a call for proposals to redevelop this massive urban planning mistake from the 1960s.
Dawn Sloane is councillor for District 12, Halifax Regional Municipality.