Petitioners wrangle over Water Street development, by Jennifer Taplin, Metro News Halifax, Sept 10th,2008
Petitioners wrangle over Water Street development
JENNIFER TAPLIN, METRO HALIFAX
September 10, 2008 05:00
More than a few people — 65 in fact — want to have their say about a controversial office building proposal in Halifax.
They packed into city council chambers last night, but only some of them had time to tell council what they thought of the idea of putting a glass office building on top of four heritage properties on Upper Water Street. The rest will get their chance next week.
Walter Nolan urged council to keep the historic character of Halifax.
“I don’t think you really appreciate the value of heritage in Nova Scotia,” said the former alderman. “This is not New York, it was never meant to be.”
An Historic Properties shop owner said they would deeply appreciate 400 new customers the nine-storey office building would provide, especially since tourism is down.
Brad Smith with the Greater Halifax Partnership said projects like this Waterside Centre are crucial for the economic health of not just Halifax, but the entire region.
“Halifax needs to show leadership and show we’re open for business,” he said. “We need to protect and honour our heritage, not be bound by it.”
The facades of the heritage buildings would stay intact, but they would be mostly gutted inside. The more modern building housing Sweet Basil restaurant will be torn down, while the 1920s-era Imperial Oil building might need to be demolished if the supports are found to be unsalvageable, but it will be rebuilt as a replication.
The walkway many people use as a shortcut was on downtown Coun. Dawn Sloane’s mind.
“It’s been used for decades and the public feels it’s their right to walk through there,” she said. If the proposal goes ahead, that walk-through space will only be open during business hours.
Armour (Ben) McCrea, chairman of Armour Group, defended his proposal last night. He said he’s spending an extra $1.6-million in construction costs because of the heritage buildings. It’s an investment in a unique project in Halifax, which needs quality office space, he said.