Nova Scotia

Redevelopment of 136-year-old Halifax heritage building gets green light

The Halifax and West Community Council has approved a redevelopment project for the Victoria Hall property on Gottingen Street.

Development will include apartment complex with affordable units

A rendering of the future redevelopment of Victoria Hall on Gottingen Street, which would include a 13-storey apartment building behind the heritage structure. (Fathom Studio)

The Halifax and West Community Council has approved a redevelopment project for the Victoria Hall property on Gottingen Street.

A public hearing was held Tuesday night. The 136-year-old heritage building will be restored and a 13-storey apartment complex will be constructed behind it.

Chris Crawford of Fathom Studio, a Dartmouth-based architecture firm, spoke on behalf of the developer. Crawford said even though Halifax cannot legally require affordable rental units, the owner has committed to providing seven such units for 15 years.

"Four units at a maximum cost of 50 per cent of the market rate," said Crawford. "And three units at a maximum cost of 10 per cent below the market rate."

The plan lists 137 units in total for the development.

A community space in Victoria Hall will be available to local residents for 15 years. A piece of public art depicting the history of the heritage property will be set up in the lane between the two buildings.

A rendering of the development project as viewed from Creighton Street. (Fathom Studio)

One area resident raised concerns at the meeting about the impact of construction on the neighbourhood, but more than a dozen people spoke in favour of the development, pointing to the need for more rental units in downtown Halifax.

"I know how competitive it is around the city, especially on the peninsula," said Khail Francis, a property manager. "I've posted units and gotten 50 responses in one day."

Other presenters were impressed with the plans to restore Victoria Hall.

"I think it's a beautiful property," said Paul O'Connor, who also owns three heritage properties. "To have the current owner want to renovate to the tune of $3 million to $4 million dollars is incredible."

Only the local councillor, Lindell Smith, voted against the proposal, citing the construction concerns of residents as well as worries over increased traffic.