Earlier this year, the Halifax and West Community Council approved a change in land use bylaws that will allow Housing Trust of Nova Scotia to build two new affordable housing projects in the north end.
The buildings, which will stretch from Gottingen Street to Maitland Street, are taller than previous bylaws allowed on Gottingen Street, and because the land slopes down to the harbour from Gottingen Street, the Maitland Street side of the building will be even taller. The building at the former Mitchells Environmental Treasures site (now the healing garden next to Alteregos Coffee Shop) will be six storeys on Gottingen and eight storeys on Maitland, while the building at the old Diamonds bar site (at the corner of Prince William Street, across form the YMCA) will be nine storeys on Gottingen and 11 storeys on Maitland.
The old bylaws limited buildings on Gottingen Street to 50 feet, about five storeys, and on Maitland Street to 40 feet, about four storeys.
Some years ago, Housing Trust President Ross Cantwell told me that:
…each building will consist of about 100 units, about half of which will be designated “affordable,” which means that residents will spend no more than 30 percent of their income on rent, heat and utilities—about $200/month less than the market-priced apartments, depending on circumstance. The Gottingen Street ground level of each building will be retail and commercial space.
The Community Council’s approval of the buildings was appealed to the Utility and Review Board by several people who own property near the sites—Beverley Miller, who owns a building on Maitland Street; Edward Edelstein, who owns the recently renovated building that used to hold Darrell’s Pool on Gottingen Street; Clare Waque, who owns the Bus Stop Theatre; and Maxine Wagner, who complained about the mural on the side of AlterEgos. They were represented by lawyer and former MLA Howard Epstein.
The UARB decision is long, running 57 pages, but in essence it rejected all of the groups’ arguments. You can read the UARB decision here.
Now, Housing Trust will sign a development agreement with city staff, which must be approved by city council, probably in January. If council approves the development agreement, which seems likely, construction on the first of the buildings could start in the spring.
That is, assuming the group doesn’t appeal council’s approval of the development.