A trio of colourful homes in central Halifax will soon be demolished as Colonial Honda expands its parking lot again.
After buying Colonial Honda in 2016, Steele Auto Group’s affiliate companies started buying up two dozen surrounding properties. A community group, Homes Not Hondas, sprung up to oppose the dealer’s plans, but it eventually demolished most of the buildings and expanded its parking lot.
Four years later, the dealership is bringing the wrecking ball back out.
Dynamic Properties Company Limited purchased all three of the blue, red and yellow units at 2792, 2796, and 2800 May St., registered as condominiums, on July 31, 2020, according to provincial property records.
Rob Steele is listed as that company’s director and chief executive officer in the provincial registry of joint stocks. Steele is also the director and chief executive officer of Steele Auto Group Limited, the owner of Colonial Honda.
Sales data on ViewPoint indicates the company bought all three units for $1.2 million.
The condominium corporation associated with the building lists Steele’s executive assistant and Steele Auto Group’s president and chief operating officer, and chief financial officer as directors. They became the directors in August.
In a statement on Friday, Colonial Honda confirmed its plans.
“Colonial plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot, which fronts on the Robie Street commercial corridor,” the emailed statement reads.
“This part of Robie is home to several auto dealership, service and repair centres.”
On Friday, the three units appeared vacant. Nova Scotia Power’s meters have been removed, leaving three empty meter bases on the side of 2792 May St., and the service wires are disconnected and capped.
Halifax regional municipality spokesperson Klara Needler said in an email Friday that there’s a demolition permit pending.
“An application has been made for a demolition permit for 5792 May Street,” Needler said.
“The demolition permit for 5792 May Street is in the application stage and has not been issued at this time.”
Rumour had it that the buildings across the street would meet the same fate, but the owner says that discussion is “premature.”
“I don’t want to talk about this until we get the permit, but there is a new development coming up down there,” Peter Laba said in an interview.
“It’s not going to be any parking or dealership at all.”
Laba owns PNL Communications and the row of properties on the north side of May Street, between Robie and Fern, including the corners — 2705 Robie St. and 2706 Fern St. He also owns the parking lot at 2727 Robie St., which used to be the home of PNL Communications.
Laba transferred ownership of most of the properties from one company to another last year. They’re currently all owned by his numbered company, 3311690 Nova Scotia Limited.
There are still tenants in the May Street buildings, but Laba said he hopes to build there eventually. There are no development or demolition permits associated with the properties.
Any development there will conform to the Centre Plan, Laba said. The plan grants significant development rights for the property, with a height limit of 90 metres — about 28 storeys.
Laba said the colourful houses across the street are surrounded by Colonial Honda, so it doesn’t surprise him that they’re being demolished. But he thinks the area has enough parking lots, with his own having been there since the 1990s.
“I’m sick and tired of that. That area deserves a lot better than this,” he said.
“We’re done with the parking lots down there.”
Again, he said it’s premature to discuss his plans, but he’s aiming for housing.
“If it’s going to be, it’s going to be one of the nicest looking apartment buildings up there, high end, and everyone’s going to be pleased with it.”
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Does it make sense to use central city space for car dealerships? Are there no city planners employed in Halifax? Imagine how many affordable housing units could be built on that footprint.
If affordable housing was a priority HRM would regulate demolition permits- Friends of Halifax Common wrote to both the Mayor and Premier on this in 2016 proposing a number of controls. The Centre Plan is incentivizing the demolition of thousands of halifax units. https://www.halifaxcommon.ca/dear-mayor-take-control-of-demolition-permits/
HRM loves this, they collect fees from permits for construction and then taxes from ‘high end’ development.
Savage loves this because ‘Halifax is a world class city’.
I think every councillor should take a pay cut of $10,000 a year and the Mayor $15,000 a year for the next 4 years and have the money given to non-profit housing organisations.
This city continues to stun in it’s hypocrisy.
A housing crisis and a car dealership is still allowed to demolish housing on the peninsula for a FUCKING parking lot.
Jesus FUCKING Christ!!!!!!!
Can hardly wait for the high end apartment with rents in the stratosphere. The “market” is really working it’s magic isn’t it?
Once again, cars are being prioritized over what should matter – people and a very basic and fundamental need – an affordable place to call home. Absolutely agree with this individual.