An architectural rendering of the proposal for 392 Portland St. — HRM/Zzap Architecture and Planning
An architectural rendering of the proposal for 392 Portland St. — HRM/Zzap Architecture and Planning

The municipality’s Design Advisory Committee is recommending in favour of a seven-storey development proposed for Portland Street.

Zzap Architect and Planning submitted a pre-application under the municipality’s Centre Plan for 392 Portland St.

Architectural drawings in the plans refer to the building as Crown Tower. A company called Crown Tower Apartments is registered to Allan Silverman, who also owns Accord Canadian Realty, located down the road at 341 Portland St. with his Sunset Towers apartment building.

The lot in question, 392 Portland St., is situated between Aladdin Video and Variety and Pizza Girls, which is at the corner of Portland Street and Prince Arthur Avenue.

The company demolished the home and garage at 392 Portland St. last year to make way for a new building.

It’s proposing a 41-unit apartment building with 12 underground parking stalls, a rooftop patio, and a gym and common room in the seventh-storey penthouse.

A 2019 Google Streeview image shows the house at 392 Portland St. prior to demolition.

According to design drawings included in the staff report to the committee, the apartments would range in size from 540-square-foot one-bedroom units to 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom units.

The application comes to the Design Advisory Committee for a recommendation to the development officer, municipal planner Sean Audas, on the design elements of the proposal. The development officer, Audas, ultimately decides whether to approve the application. Neither Audas nor the developer is under any obligation to heed the committee’s advice.

The committee met virtually on Wednesday to consider the proposal. There was no livestream available to the public and draft minutes from the meeting were posted online on Friday.

According to the minutes, the committee asked about the sides of the building, “noting that they are essentially street fronts, and do not meet the design articulation requirements” of the Centre Plan. The section the committee members cited applies to the street wall — the front of a building — and requires developers to alternate design and materials to make walls look more interesting.

“[Municipal planner] Rachael Groat clarified the east and west façades are technically not street walls as they do not meet the property line, therefore the requirements … are not applicable,” the minutes say.

Because those walls are so visible, the committee wanted the developer to follow those rules anyway.

“The Committee noted that although this is not a requirement of the Land Use By-law, consideration of these requirements would greatly improve the overall design of the building,” the minutes say.

The committee amended the motion to add that it “strongly recommends applying the design principles contemplated … to improve the articulation and design of the eastern and western façades of the building which have a strong visual presence on the surrounding streets.”

For the same reasons, the committee also recommended the developer “Ensure the distinction of materials for the penthouse and core (stairwell enclosure) of the building versus the main façade.”

The developer is requesting one variation from the design rules: the penthouse is closer to one side of the roof than it’s supposed to be.

The amended motion recommending in favour of the development passed. The developer now has to post a website to notify the public of its plans, and then the development officer will make a decision to approve or deny the proposal.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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