The city’s peninsula planning advisory committee is recommending in favour of a big developer’s plans to add a modern eight-storey building to the back of a South Street heritage property.
Summer Wind Holdings, with the same owners as Southwest Properties, wants to build a total of 112 units in the space between South and Harvey streets, ranging from 500-square foot one-bedroom units to 1,700-square foot three-bedroom units. The developer is proposing 83 underground parking spaces, and the main entrance would face Harvey Street.
The developer is also proposing to restore Stairs House and connect the municipally-registered heritage property to the new building. Dating back to 1838, the building is named for its second owner, “merchant, banker, and politician” William James Stairs.
“While it has endured some questionable additions of form and material, and has been converted to multi-tenant use, it has retained its essential original form, detailing and residential use, presenting to the street a clear image of a well-proportioned Georgian cottage,” reads a heritage impact statement by WSP, submitted as part of the application.
The developer would remove an addition made in 1863, restore the front porch, and remove the vinyl siding and restore the wood shingle siding underneath.
It would also tear down two existing apartment buildings on Harvey Street and one between those and Stairs House.
The city’s peninsula planning advisory committee met by teleconference on Monday to consider the application, and the draft minutes were posted online on Tuesday afternoon.
The minutes indicate that the committee asked municipal planner Jesse Morton about what the Centre Plan would allow for the site without a development agreement, and expressed concern about the design on the Harvey Street side and how it would effect pedestrian traffic.
“Morton answered that the as of right development allows for mixed residential uses and 11 meters in height. The application is before the Committee as the applicant is requesting additional height to a total height of 23 ½ meters,” the minutes say.
The development agreement is being considered under a Centre Plan policy that allows developers to build bigger and taller when they restore a heritage property.
The committee was also concerned about the affordability of the new building.
“Members questioned the number of existing units that will be lost when the buildings on Harvey Street are demolished … The Committee would like to see the same number of affordable housing units remain in the new development,” the minutes say.
“Morton indicated there is no criteria for staff to request affordable housing units and that the 27 existing units will be lost when the buildings are demolished.”
The committee eventually passed a motion recommending approval “with consideration given to the stepback on Harvey Street in making it more welcoming to the pedestrian experience, more of a setback along the western elevation of the building and an increase in the number of two or more-bedroom units.”
The proposal is about halfway through the development agreement process. It will head to the heritage advisory committee and then to Halifax regional council for approval of the substantial alteration to a heritage property, and to the Halifax and West community council for a public hearing and final approval of the development agreement.