An updated rendering of Peter Rouvalis’ proposal for the corner of Robie and College streets. — ZZap Consulting
An updated rendering of Peter Rouvalis’ proposal for the corner of Robie and College streets. — ZZap Consulting

The developer behind one of the two big, controversial projects proposed for the corner of Robie Street and Spring Garden Road has tweaked his design, opting for taller towers and more units.

ZZapp Consulting submitted an updated design to the municipality on behalf of a numbered company owned by Peter Rouvalis in May, and it was posted online this week.

The developer is looking for a development agreement for the project at the corner of Robie and College streets after Halifax regional council approved bylaw amendments enabling this project and another, from Dexel Developments at the corner of Robie Street and Spring Garden Road, following a public hearing about a year ago.

Together, the two projects would transform nearly the entire block in the heart of peninsular Halifax, bounded by Robie, Spring Garden, College and Carlton.

At the public hearing last July, residents were almost all opposed to the project and concerned they weren’t being properly considered together.

“These two proposals are together working synergistically to destroy an entire city block,” Lukas Pearse told council.

But both projects still need to go through another public hearing to get development agreements from Halifax and West community council.

Rouvalis’ original proposal contemplated towers of 26 and 20 storeys, with about 400 residential units, 32,000 square feet of commercial space, and more than 350 parking spaces.

The towers in the updated proposal would be 29 and 28 storeys, plus mechanical penthouses. The number of units has increased to 577, commercial space to about 43,000 square feet, and the number of parking spaces to more than 500.

The original proposal, left, and the updated one. — Kassner Goodspeed Architects/ZZap Consulting
The original proposal, left, and the updated one. — Kassner Goodspeed Architects/ZZap Consulting

The design rationale submitted to the city says the new design is still within the size limits approved by council last year.

After a review by city planning staff, the proposal will head next to the peninsula planning advisory committee, which recommended shorter buildings — 20 and 16 storeys, as opposed to 26 and 20 — in September 2018.

“The overall height, I do believe we are aiming a little bit too high,” said one member of the committee, Ashley Morton. “It’s higher than I’m quite comfortable with.”

That committee, which makes non-binding suggestions about peninsular developments, also recommended planning staff “use all available tools to maximize affordable housing within the development.”

Though there are plans for affordable housing in the neighbouring proposal (16 units), there are no affordable units mentioned in Rouvalis’ updated plans.

The heritage properties in a rendering of the corner of College and Carlton streets — ZZap Consulting
The heritage properties in a rendering of the corner of College and Carlton streets — ZZap Consulting

The proposal also includes substantial alterations to three registered heritage properties in the area. The plan is to integrate them into the larger building near the corner of College and Carlton streets, moving one registered and one unregistered heritage property.

Construction would happen in two phases, with the developer first restoring and moving the heritage buildings, and then building the new towers and podium.

Zane Woodford

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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13 Comments

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  1. Bait and switch. What’s another 8 storeys? What’s another 170 units? What’s another design that’s very different from the one shared? What’s an “integration” of a heritage building compared to renovating it?

    I stand by what I said at council.

  2. This new version is much uglier – just 2 massive boxes maximizing density; most likely worse for wind effects on the street; treats the heritage houses worse; does not indicate provision for affordable units; will be even greater volume impact on traffic, services and the neighbourhood.
    The images shown are again misleading because they do not include showing the other 2 high rise buildings to be built by another developer on the other half of the same block (facing Spring Garden and bounded by Robie and Carlton Streets).

  3. I wasn’t thrilled with the first proposal but could live with it, knowing that some of the heritage buildings might be restored. Though some might think of this proposal as progress, I think the new proposal is a short-sighted step in the wrong direction. As Colin Stuttard said, it is like something from a 1920s plan for New York city.

    Just because technology enables the building of taller and taller buildings doesn’t mean they should be built without thought for what they do to the surrounding streetscape and environment.

    Council should follow the recommendations of the planning advisory committee and reduce the project to the PAC’s recommended 16 and 20 storey towers, not allow the developer to increase the scope of the project to include these monstrous 28 and 29 storey towers. Shame on Council if they allow this revised proposal.

  4. When you have councillors representing hubbards to Taylor head who don’t give a f&@$ what goes on in the city you get projects like this. There’s no need for these monstrosities.

  5. Our lap dog council will rubber stamp this. They just can’t say no to developers now can they. It won’t stop until all poor and modest income households are extirpated from the peninsula.

    PROGRESS GODDAMNIT!!

  6. Please stop destroying Halifax and Dartmouth by approving taller and taller buildings. These buildings are downright ugly and are not in keeping with the character and look of the surrounding buildings. Why are so many development agreements that require bylaw amendments being approved? Why even bother having bylaws if we are just going to find ways around them? As for the lack of affordable housing in this proposal, this should not be allowed in any development. I agree with the comment above – stop taking cash in lieu of affordable units. Somehow that cash just seems to disappear…….

  7. The new proposal seems to have been plucked out of some NY City plan from the 1920s, and when will developers acknowledge that high-rise buildings are much less energy efficient than lower buildings?

  8. Whatever we do, we need to STOP taking cash in lieu for affordable housing units. That money just goes into the vacuum at city hall and is never seen again. It does nothing to help those who need it but instead, gets sucked into the already gluttuneous staff salaries and benefits. IF we are to trade affordable units for anything???? Let it be that they commit to pay cleaners and all other staff 25% more than the living wage for Halifax for the life of the building. ANYTHING but just paying more money to the staff that drinks it like wine and then makes decisions that reflect the cognition one would expect of the intoxicated.