Posted Nov 24, 2009, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: B3K Halifax, NS
I Knew W.M. Fares Was Behind This One ...
Development seeks council’s blessing
By CHRIS LAMBIE Business Editor
Tue. Nov 24 - 4:46 AM
It’s God’s house now, but one day you could live there.
The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Halifax is taking a proposal to Halifax regional council today to build an 11-storey residential tower on top of a floor of commercial space and a connected five-storey commercial building on land now occupied by St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Rectory and Centre.
"They’re closing churches and the land is becoming available," said developer Wadih Fares.
"It happens in Halifax that the church has been occupying good real estate property."
He plans to pay the church more than $2.5 million for the property, located between Dutch Village Road and Joseph Howe Drive north of the Bayers Road intersection.
"We have an agreement with them," Mr. Fares said Monday. "We’ll be buying from them. We won’t be developing with them."
Constructing the project will cost $15 million to $20 million.
The episcopal corporation is consolidating three church parishes into Saint Benedict Parish and building a new church in Clayton Park.
St. Lawrence Church hasn’t closed yet. But parishioners are hopeful council will approve the new development.
"I think there have been a lot of people praying for this so we can move on with the process and bring this to a pleasant conclusion," said Les Stewart, who heads Saint Benedict’s task force to sell the three old churches.
The project’s would-be developer is planning a meeting with the neighbours in January.
"We feel that we have a good, attractive proposal that will enhance the area," said Mr. Fares, president of WM Fares Group.
"And I believe we have a good enough name to carry this project through."
The episcopal corporation is looking for council’s approval to replace the church buildings with 104 residential units. Seventy-nine of them would be two-bedroom and 25 would have one bedroom.
They will likely be rental units as the condo market in the area wouldn’t be able to absorb them, Mr. Fares said.
The apartments will be "high-end," he said. "You’re probably looking at around $1,200 for a two-bedroom."
If he is able to get a development agreement wrapped up by next summer, construction could start as early as the fall of 2010 or as late as the spring of 2011.
The commercial part of the project will face Joseph Howe Drive. The plan going to council today is to build 52,500 square feet of commercial retail and office space.
"We’re still looking at the commercial to see if that much commercial will really go there or if we could decrease the commercial and increase the residential."
The property is zoned for minor commercial use. To allow the project to go ahead, council will have to approve a site-specific plan amendment.
"The proposed mixed-use building would be an investment in the economic fabric of the adjacent business commun-ity; small businesses such as banks, restaurants, daycares and retail shops will benefit from a building of this type with its proposed uses," said a report from Randa Wheaton, a senior municipal planner.
"At the same time, it would provide a good opportunity to live and work, where future residents can enjoy available services and amenities."
The residential portion of the proposed development will face Dutch Village Road.
"Two levels of underground parking and a substantial amount of outdoor parking will serve all of the uses," said Ms. Wheaton’s report.
In an interview, she said it’s difficult to tell if neighbours will like the plan. There are homes directly across from it on Joseph Howe. North of the property, in Fairview, are low-rise apartment buildings.
"It’s hard to say (what the public’s reaction will be) at this stage because it’s really, really early," Ms. Wheaton said. "Once it’s initiated and we start doing the review process and hold a public information meeting, that’s when we get a better idea of what the public feeling is.
"It’s a fairly tall building for this area, and that alone may be of concern to some of the residents."