The developer behind a planned seven-storey building on Spring Garden Road says the project was inspired by the Halifax Central Library, but detractors say they worry the development will ruin the library's view of the city.
"The library inspired me to do this. We want to add to the success of the library, not take away [from it]," said Danny Chedrawe, the president of Westwood Developments.
Westwood Developments is proposing a mixed-used building with commercial space on the ground floor, a boutique hotel, residential units and a rooftop restaurant.
But those opposed to the development planned for the block between Spring Garden Road and Doyle Street say it will hurt the view of Citadel Hill from the library's fifth floor where a large sitting and reading room is located.
"As the library slogan goes — 'Share the Wow' — and we're here to save the wow," said Larry Haiven, a member of the group Friends of Schmidtville.
A chance for 'more collaboration'
The $60-million library has been open just over a year and has had close to two million visits. The developer and city officials have been urged to negotiate to come up with a compromise.
"In many other cities, we see a lot more collaboration between developers, city staff and the community," said Brenden Sommerhalder, past chair of the peninsula planning advisory committee.
"Consider this as an opportunity to try a new style of development — more community-centred."
Chedrawe is holding a public information meeting Wednesday night at his Doyle Street office behind the demolition site.
Westwood Developments says it has consulted with the designers of the library and modified plans for the proposal. The changes reduce the height at the west end of the building.
"I can assure the public that after this building is built, there's still going to be a tremendous view of Citadel Hill," said Chedrawe. "I'm saving the view because I think it's important."
Chedrawe points out his plan has an number of extras that will benefit the public: he's doubled the width of the sidewalks around the building, the block will be ringed with trees, new lighting and all the overhead wiring will be buried underground. There will also be 70 spaces in the underground parking garage set aside for the public.
Westwood Developments hopes to have the proposal approved by the city's design review committee within a few months and start construction shortly afterwards. To minimize the impact of the project on the area, the company hopes to finish the new building within two years.