Even taller building under consideration for Robie and Quinpool

The developer of the proposed Willow Tree Tower is offering to include 10 affordable housing units if Halifax regional council greenlights a 25-storey building across from the Halifax Common.

'This has a lot of messiness written all over it,' said Coun. Sam Austin

The proposed Willow Tree Tower will sit at the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street, just across from the Halifax Common. (Submitted by Armco Capital)

Halifax regional council has rejected a proposal for a 20-storey building at the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street, but only so an even taller one can be considered.

A public hearing on the 20-storey version of the Willow Tree Tower was held in January where there was significant opposition to the project, which would overlook the Halifax Common.

But the developer, APL Properties, suggested if council allowed a 25-storey building instead, it would include 10 affordable housing units.

The hearing was then adjourned so city planners could study the idea. But staff maintained that the maximum height for the site should be kept at 20 storeys.

As a result, Coun. Sam Austin was reluctant Tuesday to consider the alternative option.

"This has a lot of messiness written all over it," said Austin.

Most councillors, however, were interested in the offer of affordable housing units.

"Even though I have issues," said Coun. Lindell Smith, "this is a way of moving forward where we are going to get affordable housing."

Affordable housing means the units would be 40 per cent less expensive for a 15-year period. The new proposal could also mean a wider sidewalk along Robie Street to accommodate pedestrians and transit users, as well as a provision for underground wiring around the site.

For Coun. Steve Adams the choice was clear.

"So if we approve this we get all kinds of other stuff, I'm going to go with the 25," said Adams.

Planners now have to prepare amendments to land-use bylaws that will allow the 25-storey version, and there will have to be another public hearing before council can vote on it.