HRM Planning Jamboree – Developers Take a Lesson from The Donald

 Mr. Trump in 1980 with a model of Trump Tower. Though it was built with 58 floors, he billed it as having 68 floors. Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Mr. Trump in 1980 with a model of Trump Tower. Though it was built with 58 floors, he billed it as having 68 floors. Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

If  you’ve been watching the Halifax development scene maybe you weren’t surprized about the US election. You already know there are no rules.  A one-stop shopping jamboree for 18 new development agreement applications, with an open house style HRM Public Information Meeting on Wednesday, December 7, 12–2 and 6–8, at the Atlantica Hotel will determine the fate of a neighbourhood near you. If approved, many of the proposals will impact the Halifax Common, its perimeter and existing small scale mixed-use residential units, commercial spaces and heritage houses. Some example proposals include:

  • 13 storey tower at Robie between Cunard and Compton (NW corner of North Common);
  • 14 storey tower on Robie at Pepperell (near Common Roots Farm);
  • 16 & 30 storey towers at Spring Garden Road west of Carlton St.;
  • 20 & 26 storey towers on College, between Robie and Carlton St.

Yup, it feels like we’re living a paragraph out of a book that The Donald wrote. Got some architecturally note-worthy property? Go ahead demolish it. Want to replace it with a building that’s too tall for the lot size and doesn’t match the zoning?  Win approval by promising mixed-use, retail, office and residential. Want even more height?  Get more storeys in exchange for a “public” atrium, call it “public space” and put in kiosks to sell your own stuff. Or add art and parking. Maybe a bench? The higher, the richer. Don’t fuss, go ahead wreck the character of the neighbourhood. Call it densification, colour it walkable and sell it as sustainable.  Of course the developers can plan how the city will look – don’t they own the land? Don’t they make the rules?
This week Centre Plan presentations and consultations are at Dartmouth Sportsplex on November 16 & Dal on 17th.  December 2nd is the deadline to submit comments. Details here: http://centreplan.ca/