Developer Danny Chedrawe submitted a new proposal for his Robie Street property this week, seeking approval for a 23-storey tower next to the Willow Tree site.
The proposal, submitted by WSP Canada Inc. on behalf of Chedrawe’s Westwood Developments and posted on the city’s website on Monday, is for a development agreement on the site at 2032-2050 Robie St.
If approved, the 85-metre tower would consist of 102 apartments or condominiums ranging in size from 620-square foot one-bedroom units to 960-square foot two-bedroom units. In the ground floor and potentially the second floor, there’d be up to 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Underground parking would hold up to 126 vehicles.
The Robie Street site has been the subject of several different proposals over the last six years.
Back in 2014, Westwood and Armco were jointly applying to develop the Willow Tree site and this one, with Chedrawe looking for 18 storeys.
“The applications were separated as Westwood elected to spend more time considering their design through further engaging with the Halifax community,” reads an application letter from WSP planning manager Christina Lovitt, dated May 13.
The Willow Tree proposal was approved in 2018 at 25 storeys and sold off earlier this year to Shannex for $16.5 million.
In 2015, Westwood submitted a plan for a 25-storey tower that included three levels of hotel space.
Then in 2017, they floated two options at a public meeting: a plan for a six-storey commercial building and a plan for a 22-storey tower.
Opting for the tower, Westwood brought the proposal to the city as the Centre Plan was in its final stages in late 2018.
In June 2019, municipal planning staff recommended against the project, basically telling council to tell Westwood to bring back a shorter proposal under the new Centre Plan.
“The proposal does not meet, at minimum, 3 of the 5 design principles identified by Council at the time of initiation, nor is it compliant with draft Centre Plan policies,” planner Carl Purvis wrote in a report to council.
“Staff advise that the physical limitations of this property mean that a mid-rise building form would be most appropriate for the site.”
Council rejected the staff recommendation and passed a motion from Coun. Lindell Smith to amend the Centre Plan to permit the proposal.
Planning staff baked a policy for the site into the Centre Plan “in recognition of the substantial investment made in the preparation of a planning applications for the site” … “where for a limited period of time a development agreement may be considered for a single residential tower no greater than 85 metres in height, located atop a two-storey podium containing primarily commercial uses.
“Consistent with other transition policies, the project will be required to be commenced and completed within a reasonable timeframe,” the policy says.
The proposal appears to adhere to that policy and will follow a development agreement process, with a public hearing at the Regional Centre Community Council.
It would also mean a deposit into the city’s affordable housing fund. That has yet to be set up, but the plan is to take cash from developers in lieu of limited time, quasi-affordable units in their buildings and use the money to support non-profit housing.
Under the Centre Plan, any development over 2,000 square metres in floor area is subject to what’s called a density bonus agreement.
The density bonus formula means that 20% of the floor area over 2,000 square metres is subject to the density bonus rate, $180 in this area as of 2019. With a total proposed floor area of 10,157 square metres, that means almost $300,000, 60% of which has to go into the affordable housing fund.