A Cole Harbour café will be expanding to the Halifax side of the harbour and replacing an old landmark.

Jason Selby, owner of Selby’s Bunker, a coffee and gift shop on Cole Harbour Road, applied for a development agreement for 6319 Chebucto Rd. That’s the Gibson’s Antiques building, vacant since 2015. Selby bought the building in 2021 for $385,000.

Selby wanted to refresh the existing building, which also contains an apartment upstairs, and add a café. Because of the area’s residential zoning, he needed a development agreement to allow a café in the main and second floors. Selby plans to build an apartment in the basement.

An architectural rendering shows a grey building with SELBY'S CAFE on the sign in teal. There are people milling about inside and out.
A rendering of Selby’s proposal for 6319 Chebucto Rd. in Halifax. Credit: HRM/360 CAD Services

The Halifax and West Community Council met Tuesday night and approved the development agreement.

Selby told councillors about his business in Cole Harbour, where he said 70% of its products are sourced from Nova Scotia. He said Selby’s Bunker employs a diverse staff, including refugees, newcomers, and people with autism.

“I’m so grateful for my staff and all they do to serve our community every day, so when this lovely lot and building came for sale, I thought it would be wonderful to do this again,” he said. “Here we are tonight to seek your permission in that.”

Building will be torn down, replicated

Architect Peter Henry told councillors everyone he talks to knows the building he’s working on — and no one wants to see it torn down.

“It’s a building that’s easy to love,” he said.

“We’ve committed to the city that we would reconstruct the building in its size, shape, and volume. That is to say, we will not consume one cubic millimetre more city space than what you see there today.”

According to the staff report by planner Taylor MacIntosh, the original plan was to renovate the existing building.

“However, the applicant has advised that further investigation has revealed that the existing building may be in an unsalvageable condition and will likely need to be demolished and reconstructed,” MacIntosh wrote.

“Although it would be beneficial to keep the original structure, the proposed design and built form maintains compatibility with the adjacent residential neighbourhood and reconstruction offers the ability to improve elements such as accessibility.”

Coun. Lindell Smith, who represents the area, was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting. Coun. Shawn Cleary, from the neighbouring district, said Smith was in favour of the development, and so is he.

“I think it’s important for the neighbourhood to have those kinds of neighbourhood commercial uses within walking distance. And so, for me, this is an excellent use of this building,” Cleary said.

There were no residents at the meeting to speak for or against the development. MacIntosh noted in the staff report that people expressed support for the project and for Selby during public consultation. Others reported concerns about parking on Willow Street, on the north side of the building.

The development agreement limits hours to 7am to 11pm, and prohibits back-lit signage.

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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