Nova Scotia

Halifax developer, philanthropist Ben McCrea dies

A well-known Halifax philanthropist and developer, responsible for transforming numerous properties including three downtown city blocks full of run-down buildings into Halifax's Historic Properties, has died.

Ben McCrea, founder of The Armour Group, dies an the age of 73

Armour (Ben) McCrea, 73, died Tuesday after a lengthy illness, McCrea's son Scott McCrea said in a statement. (Armour Group)

A well-known Halifax philanthropist and developer, responsible for transforming numerous properties including three downtown city blocks full of run-down buildings into Halifax’s Historic Properties, has died.

Armour (Ben) McCrea, 73, died Tuesday after a lengthy illness, McCrea’s son Scott McCrea said in a statement.

Ralph Medjuk, a fellow Halifax developer who knew McCrea for decades, said he will be missed.

"I'm very sorry to learn of his passing, he was a good guy, tough minded, an individual but very clever, very honest and I think he'll be missed," he said.

McCrea was born in Salisbury, New Brunswick and earned a civil engineering degree from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters in Science (Engineering) from the University of Illinois.

As president of The Armour Group, one of McCrea’s first and most influential projects was his development of Halifax’s Historic Properties 40 years ago. The project became a turning point in how Halifax managed urban renewal. The project was the first development in Atlantic Canada to use seawater for heating and cooling.

Over his career, McCrea and his company were responsible for developing many landmark properties in downtown Halifax including Founders Square, a project which conserved seven pre-confederation structures around one of the cities largest office towers.

As president of The Armour Group, one of McCrea’s first and most influential projects was his development of Halifax’s Historic Properties 40 years ago. (Armour Group)

The Armour Group is also behind the development of the controversial Waterside Centre. The construction project involves gutting several old buildings across from the Historic Properties and building a nine-storey office building behind the facades.

In 2010 ,the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia decided not to appeal a decision by the Utility and Review Board to allow the development to go ahead, saying the centre furthers the economic development of Halifax’s downtown.

McCrea donated generously to numerous causes including Sacred Heart School, Mount St. Vincent University and the MBA-Engineering Management Scholarship at University of New Brunswick, among others.

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