Downtown centre work finally to start, Chronicle Herald, January 20, 2012 - 6:37pm BY CHRIS LAMBIE BUSINESS EDITOR
Downtown centre work finally to start
January 20, 2012 - 6:37pm BY CHRIS LAMBIE BUSINESS EDITOR
After a long and ugly hiatus, construction is slated to start soon on Armour Group’s Waterside Centre in downtown Halifax.
The site of Armour’s proposed $16-million, nine-storey project on Upper Water Street has looked like a bombed-out shell for several years.
On paper, it involves preserving the facades of six historical buildings on a block bounded by Hollis, Duke and Upper Water streets while a metal and glass structure is built on the inside. But while demolition on the controversial project got started around the height of the recession, the modern building never went up.
“From my understanding, the biggest issue is they have to shore up the sides of the buildings,” Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown) said Friday.
“They don’t want to take down what’s already there — the existing outer shell of the buildings.”
Sloane said she discussed the project about 10 days ago with Scott McCrea, who heads Armour.
“He’s going to have to have these walls reinforced so that when they’re doing the work in behind, it doesn’t fall down on people,” Sloane said.
McCrea could not be reached Friday for comment.
Sloane said she expects work to start on Waterside within about a week.
“He was just working out with our staff the permits for closing down the sidewalks because it’s going to cost them a lot of money to do that,” she said.
The plan for Waterside Centre was initially rejected by the regional council in a tie vote in October 2008 but, upon appeal from Armour Group, council’s decision was overturned by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
“I was very upset that they did what they did to the buildings in the first place,” Sloane said. “But if they’re going to start, get it done. Rip off the bandage and get going.”
Construction equipment should start rolling in once the old walls are reinforced, she said. “I don’t think you’re going to see it completed until 2014,” Sloane said.
“A building like that, with those kinds of specialities going on, trying to preserve heritage and build something new in behind it, I think you’ll see that it’s going to take two years, easy.”
The facades that were preserved belonged to the “oldest stock of heritage buildings in Canada,” Sloane said.