St. Pat's-Alexandra bidders dispute cost concerns in staff report
North Central Community Council Association confident it can sustain operating costs
The North Central Community Council Association is fighting back against a report from Halifax Regional Municipality staff, which recommends regional council reject the association's bid to buy the former St. Patrick's-Alexandra School site.
The community association — which is offering to pay $3.7 million for the property through a loan with Housing Nova Scotia — has already provided a $185,000 deposit.
The newly formed North Central Community Council Association is made up of the MicMac Native Friendship Centre, the North End Community Health Association and the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence.
The group wants to transform the Maitland Street property into a multi-purpose site that would include affordable housing and a community hub.
"This could be, really, so wonderful for our entire city," said Rhonda Britton, the community group's director.
On Friday, staff with the Halifax Regional Municipality released a report recommending regional council reject the association's offer and instead sell the surplus building at market value — about $5.2 million.
According to the report, there are three main concerns about the deal to sell the site to the North Central Community Council Association. The Halifax Regional Municipality would be expected to keep the property during the development agreement negotiations, which comes with ownership risks such as holding costs.
Staff are also worried about how the group would operate the building on a daily basis.
The report then raised concerns about the state of the building and said the community association might not be able to bring it up to building codes.
"In the area where they have concerns, we believe that we can address them," Britton said Monday.
"I want to assure the public we are prepared and that we do have the assurances of funders that the money is there to do this. I mean, they didn't think that we had $3.7 million to offer to buy it either but we did. We got it. So I'm confident that we can sustain this."
It's not clear whether regional council will deal with the issue when it meets Tuesday, since there is still an ongoing court challenge launched by the Jono Developments Ltd., which was originally awarded the property by the Halifax Regional Municipality in 2008.
This week, Jono Developments is appealing a lower court ruling that took the property from them in 2012.
"I would suspect somebody would make a motion on Tuesday to defer this — at least until that part is over," said Coun. Barry Dalrymple.