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Condos coming to Halifax's Citadel Hill?

On April 1, 1986, CBC Halifax reported on a real estate developer's plans to build luxury condos on historic Citadel Hill.

Developer was enthusiastic about water views and uniformed guards in 1986

Condos on Halifax's Citadel Hill?

Digital Archives

35 years ago
2:25
The water views will be spectacular -- with uniformed security staff, too! 2:25

In Halifax, a view of the water is a valuable attribute for any new condominium.

The condos would be built right within the walls of the Citadel, according to the developer's blueprints, which were shown on TV on April 1, 1986. (First Edition/CBC Archives)

But in 1986, there wasn't a lot of valuable land available to build on in the city.

"Finally, developers have got their hands on one of the prime locations: Citadel Hill," reporter Melvin McLeod claimed in a report for CBC Halifax on April 1 — hint, hint — of that year.

Behind the walls of the historic fort, work had allegedly already begun on a development consisting of an office tower and "high-priced condominium."

"The project ... will dominate the Halifax skyline," said McLeod, adding that the developers were handling it "with the sensitivity required of such an historic site." 

Condo dwellers would be protected by uniformed staff and elaborate security, according to the report that aired on April 1, 1986. (First Edition/CBC Archives)

"The main tower is over on this end," said developer James Drescher, gesturing at a spot along the wall where a building already stood. "Then we get a little bit shorter tower. In any case, it'll obscure everything from anywhere else, I suppose."

"I'm really not sure who's going to be able to see the harbour from the other side of the Citadel anyway," said his business partner, Charles Leaf.

"Irrelevant if anyone can see it except the people in the condos," said Drescher. "Because those are the people we're selling to."

Amenities unlike anything else

The condos would cost $300,000 — a steep price for 1986 in Halifax.

But the amenities included "uniformed staff" and "elaborate security."

Condo opponents marched and chanted as the developers outlined their plans to the CBC, in a report that aired on April 1, 1986. (First Edition/CBC Archives)

The developers said they expected they could save the landmark clock tower on Citadel Hill.

"But if we can't save it, we'll take it somewhere," said Leaf, reassuringly.

The development wasn't welcomed with open arms, as evidenced by sign-bearing pickets chanting "Save our Citadel!" 

"Such visionary projects often draw small-minded protesters," noted McLeod. "With big bucks at stake, the developers appear unmoved."

Spectacular view

Drescher dismissed concerns about water views becoming inaccessible to Haligonians, saying the new condos would create a "much more spectacular" view.

"This will be tall enough, you'll be able to see it from anywhere in the city. It will be a beautiful building and people will appreciate it, I'm sure."

McLeod had one more thing to add.

"This is, of course, an April Fools' joke. But in Halifax, perhaps a little too believable." 

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