A rendering of Mosaik Properties’ proposal for the corner of Oxford and North streets. Photo: Paul Skerry Architects
A rendering of Mosaik Properties’ proposal for the corner of Oxford and North streets. Photo: Paul Skerry Architects

A developer is submitting an updated proposal for the corner of Oxford and North streets, and a new committee created for the Centre Plan will weigh in on the design next week.

George Giannoulis’s Mosaik Properties, affiliated with his family’s Mythos Developments Ltd., is hoping to build a seven-storey apartment building with about 130 one- and two-bedroom units on the property, which also fronts on Seaforth Street.

Mosaik owns and rents the old convent — now a 45-unit apartment building — on the site now, and that building, along with a duplex next door on North Street, would be torn down to make way for the new apartments.

It’s the latest iteration of the developer’s plans for the lot and the first under the Centre Plan rules, the first half of which were adopted last fall. Mythos previously applied for seven, then nine, and then six storeys on the site, but council turned down those plans in 2017.

The Centre Plan zoned the site as “corridor,” meaning a developer can build 20 metres high, or six storeys.

Because this proposal has a floor area of more than 5,000 square metres, it’s considered a Level III application. That means it needs to go through a public consultation process.

Before beginning that process, the developer is bringing the plans to the new Design Advisory Committee for a recommendation on the design requirements under the Centre Plan.

The Design Advisory Committee is a new citizen committee struck to consider the design of larger proposals under the Centre Plan. Its first meeting is being held on Wednesday to consider this proposal.

In a memorandum to the committee, principal planner and development officer Sean Audas writes that, “The applicant has successfully completed a pre-application, and the proposal has been deemed compliant with the requirements of the [land-use bylaw].”

The developer is not asking for any variations to the land-use bylaw, according to Audas.

The committee will make design recommendations to Audas or another development officer, who will consider that input in deciding whether or not to approve the project.

In a design rationale attached to Audas’ memo, architect Paul Skerry writes that the developer is permitted to build seven storeys on the site as long as it follows the density bonusing formula in the Centre Plan. That will mean a payment into the city’s to-be-established affordable housing funding, the details of which are expected at the next council meeting.

Skerry’s design rationale says the convent building is too old to save:

The existing building is not conducive to upgrading, as the plans are based on a narrow cross section wing design with a centre corridor and small flanking rooms on each side. The existing multi-unit building has only stair access to the upper floors, and the construction is obsolete with regard [to] energy efficiency and layout. The existing parking is at grade level and is a poor use of a valuable site.

As the city continues to grow and peninsular residential communities continue to mature, there is a growing demand for modern up to date apartment accommodation. This type of development will appeal to people living in the area, where they have spent most of their lives, who want to continue living in the area but move to a different more efficient type of residence. This project will also bring new residents into the neighbourhood to revitalize the area.

On a website advertising the new planned development, Mosaik says it’s planning an online public information meeting, but provides no date.

“This meeting will be hosted virtually via ZOOM with traditional call in access. Attendees will be able to submit questions after the presentation has begun,” the site says.

There’s a link to register, leading to a landing page suggesting the meeting already happened on Sep. 3. It’s unclear whether it did.

The design advisory committee meeting on Wednesday will not be broadcast publicly, and the agenda doesn’t say when the minutes will be posted.

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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  1. From a couple of posts on Twitter this morning – Dec 5, 2020, in response to a Herald article … ‘It’s very disturbing’: Halifax tenant evicted by demolition, says lawyer It looks like now that tenants were given letters, didn’t follow Tenancy Board guidelines and the owners had an excavator starting to demo the building(the person wasn’t inside) and he comes home to find this ! I didn’t know you wrote about this development, but you named the owners – this article didn’t name them, so it took me all of 2 or 3 minutes to see who owned both companies. I said to Waye Mason, to Mike Savage and @hfxgov maybe developers wo don’t follow rules and start doing demos should be banned from any development for a period of time – say 1 year – that will get everyone’s attention

    1. I assume they were consumed by architectural gremlins as dessert after they devoured the traffic lights at that intersection for dinner.

  2. Do these new developments have to have wheelchair accessible apartments? Like truly accessible with lower counters and appliances?