The municipality’s Design Review Committee has approved Killam’s plans for the corner of Hollis and Bishop streets more than two years after it approved a slightly larger proposal for the same site.
Killam applied through WSP Canada to build the seven-storey, 13-unit residential building with some commercial space on the site in front of its 24-storey building, the Alexander. The real estate investment trust also owns the heritage property to the north of the lot, Benjamin Weir House.
The proposal required six variances to the land-use bylaw for downtown Halifax — including minimum and maximum streetwall heights and setbacks — and municipal planner Meaghan Maunde recommended in favour of all of them in a report to the committee.
To access the full density allowed for the site, Killam had to provide a public benefit worth about $62,000. It chose to spend that money burying electrical and communications wires around the site, and provided invoices with its application.
The committee approved the variances, and the project in general, unanimously at a virtual meeting Thursday evening. Council will be asked to give final approval for the public benefit agreement as part of the permitting process.
In January 2020, council adopted the Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District, applying new rules to the area. If the permits had been issued for the building by that time, it would’ve been grandfathered in, but they weren’t.
“As a result, the new heritage conservation district requirements and new [land-use bylaw] regulations became applicable to the subject property and a redesign of the proposed building was required to comply with the new legislation,” Maunde wrote in the report.
The architects had to tweak the design, basically shrinking it and moving it back a few feet to let Benjamin Weir House stand out, and resubmit the application. The new design is shorter, at seven storeys versus eight; includes far fewer residential units, 13 versus 48; and adds commercial space to the ground floor.
The name also changed, from “Governor’s Plaza” to “The Governor.”
Don’t look for affordable housing in this one. On its website, Killam describes the Governor as a “high-end luxury building.”