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The public should see the whole picture when it comes to two proposed Spring Garden Road developments, not just half, according to a Halifax citizens group.
“It’s a very dishonest process because no one has been able to see these buildings together,” said Peggy Cameron of the Development Options Halifax group.
The proposed developments, which range up to 30 storeys, have each been the subject of public meetings “but never anything that looked at them together,” Cameron said.
Why is this a problem for the group? Because the combined four towers (two per development proposal) would be situated right next to each other.
“This is a game-changer. These two proposals together are ... almost 80 per cent of the square footage of the Nova Centre,” said Cameron. “So they are massive, unprecedented in this area. Everything in the neighbourhood is at risk from density creep to outright speculation by developers who are playing monopoly all over the city.”
Separate public meetings were held a week apart this spring to discuss the two projects.
“Clearly, staff have acknowledged that the two are happening adjacent to each other and included that information in the public meetings,” said Waye Mason, municipal councillor for the area.
Staff presentations at the June 4 and 11 public meetings did provide slides that introduced the projects that were proposed for adjacent lots.
Kassner Goodspeed Architects has applied to develop a 0.6-hectare lot at Robie, College and Carlton streets, to build separate towers of 26 and 20 storeys. The building, providing 400 residential units and 32,000 square feet of commercial space, would require the relocation of a registered heritage building at 5969 College St.
Dexel Developments wants to develop an adjacent half-hectare lot, providing 250 residential units, 60,000 square feet of office space and 21,000 square feet of commercial space. That development would feature two towers of 30 and 16 storeys.
The proposed towers would abut the western edge of Carlton Street, a unique designated heritage streetscape recognized by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, Cameron said.
Cameron also said that the two proposals would require the demolition of a dozen buildings, mostly small-scale businesses like restaurants and hairdressing shops and small residential buildings along Spring Garden.
Modelling the change
This weekend, Cameron and her group will display renderings of the adjacent developments created by Dalhousie University architecture students Hadrian Laing and Sara Haroun at the Glitter Bean Cafe on Spring Garden Road, across the road from the proposed developments.
“We are reimagining what this development could look like, providing alternatives,” Laing said Thursday.
Laing said a three-dimensional model that is in the works will allow stakeholders to view the proposed projects from different angles and to easily interpret what it will look like.
Laing, who lives in the area, said he would have expected the city or the developers to have already provided a rendering or model of what the streetscape would look like with both projects.
“We were shocked,” Laing said. “To go and look at the traffic assessments that have been done, the wind assessments, the sun assessments but for each building individually, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and it won’t result in an informed decision for the community.”
Laing said for stakeholders to make informed decisions, all proposed developments ought to be included in a model.
“That’s what we really are focused on,” he said. “What would the streetscape look like if all the developments were approved. That’s something we can literally render for people to see.”