Fight Between us and the City, Armour says. By Amy Pugsley Fraser, Chroncile Herald Nov 7th,2008
Fight between us and the city, Armour says
McCrea will oppose interveners when it appeals Waterside Centre decision
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Fri. Nov 7 - 2:08 PM
The Armour Group does not want any third parties, including the government, to intervene when it appeals Halifax city hall’s rejection of its Waterside Centre proposal to the Utility and Review Board.
"The issues are between Armour Group and HRM," Armour Group chairman Ben McCrea said in an interview Thursday.
Armour "will oppose the intervention of any public interest group and-or the province of Nova Scotia."
Premier Rodney MacDonald, a supporter of the Waterside Centre project, was upset that regional council rejected the proposal in a 9-9 vote on Oct. 21. He has said the province will apply for intervener status at the appeal, dates for which have not yet been set.
When a public hearing was held on the proposal a few weeks ago, dozens of people wanted to have their say, resulting in a second night being added.
Opponents of the Armour Group’s redevelopment proposal took issue with the company’s plan to keep only the facades of four existing heritage buildings, calling it Disneyland "facadism."
Supporters applauded the design for keeping the historic element while providing the city with much-needed high-end office space.
Very public lobbying campaigns have ensued. The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, which is against the redevelopment, organized a postcard blitz, and supporters of both sides have written letters to the opinion pages of The Chronicle Herald.
"We’ve been through a very difficult, lengthy, protracted process," Mr. McCrea said. "We don’t want to see it continue through a Utility and Review Board hearing."
The issues are clear, he said.
"They’re between ourselves and the city as to whether the city followed its own bylaws," he said.
"Why would we continue with an appeal if it continues to be a circus?"
Waterside Centre was designed to occupy most of the city block bordered by Upper Water, Duke and Hollis Streets in downtown Halifax.
The Armour Group owns the four heritage buildings there and proposes to keep their facades while unifying them under a new six-storey office tower designed by Lydon Lynch Architects of Halifax.
On Sunday, the Armour Group pulled down an old wooden building on the property that was not to be part of the redevelopment. The company has also applied for demolition permits for the remaining four buildings but a mandatory one-year waiting period is in effect because of their heritage status.
Mr. McCrea said Waterside Centre, modelled on his Founder’s Square redevelopment nearby on Hollis Street, is the only viable option for the property.
He said it "represents the only financially feasible basis upon which the civic history represented by the four registered heritage buildings can be preserved."