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Developers team up, propose huge 12-tower project in Halifax

Mixed-use Strawberry Hill community would include 3,656 new homes, commercial space

A rendering shows a proposed layout for a new high-density community containing 12 towers in Halifax's Strawberry Hill district. Several developers have pooled their efforts on three adjacent properties. (Courtesy Fathom Studio)
A rendering shows a proposed layout for a new high-density community containing 12 towers in Halifax's Strawberry Hill district. Several developers have pooled their efforts on three adjacent properties. (Courtesy Fathom Studio)

A proposed mixed-use development could add 12 buildings with 3,656 housing units and commercial space in Halifax’s Strawberry Hill area.

The lands have been identified by the Halifax Regional Municipality as a “Future Growth Node” for their potential to support significant population growth, employment opportunities and the development of new mobility links and public parks.

The 12.31-acre site is comprised of adjoining parcels of land owned by three companies:

  • TD Greystone owns 331,899 square feet via Eastside 2008 Equities Inc. and 9404678 Canada Inc.;
  • Steele Auto Group owns 153,254 square feet via Dynamic Properties Company Limited;
  • construction services and real estate company Rank Inc., which is part of Ramia Group of Companies, owns 50,895 square feet via 3224829 Nova Scotia Limited.

Three smaller sub-parcels have no buildings and are only used as parking lots or green spaces, while the remainder have single- or two-storey commercial or industrial uses suited for future redevelopment.

Fathom Studio submitted development proposal

Fathom Studio, an architecture firm based in Dartmouth, N.S., submitted the development proposal on behalf of the landowners.

“HRM encouraged the landowners to get together to prepare a mutual submission,” Fathom Studio founder, partner and director of planning Rob LeBlanc told RENX. “It saves costs. You don’t have to do three archaeological studies and three mobility studies. Everybody just chips in and pays their portion.”

The assembled lands are within walking distance of eight elementary and secondary schools, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax Shopping Centre, Bayers Road Centre, a dozen bus routes and planned infrastructure.

“This location is close to some rapid transit routes and it's being designed as a complete community where you don’t have to own a car and you can walk to get your groceries, and it's close to schools,” said LeBlanc.

High-rise towers will dominate development

Building heights in the proposed development will range from eight storeys up to 38-storey towers sitting on top of podiums ranging from four to six storeys. The majority will be in the 20-something- to 30-something-storey range on top of podiums of four to six storeys.

“There are a number of other areas that are now considering 120 metres, which is 40 storeys, but this is definitely the tallest in the city,” said LeBlanc. 

All of these height proposals must still receive municipal approvals, so LeBlanc noted they could end up at lower numbers.

Retail component

The development proposal says each building will host a mix of grade-related dwellings, work-live units and commercial storefronts to create an active, pedestrian-scaled ground floor that serves both the residents of the development and the surrounding community. 

While the proposal estimates almost 128,000 square feet of retail space as part of the development, LeBlanc said that number was initially kept low and could increase significantly. That retail space could include smaller urban-format versions of big-box retail stores, he noted.

LeBlanc is hopeful the project’s zoning will also allow for some office uses, but it’s not expected to be a major part of the development.

He anticipates the entire project will probably take 20 years to complete and that long timeline should provide some flexibility in decision-making should real estate space demand or needs change over the years.

There are 2,731 underground and above-ground parking spaces as part of the proposal.

A new road would be created and service and infrastructure upgrades will also be needed, according to LeBlanc.

Approvals still needed before moving forward

“We seem to have really good reception with city staff and with council,” said LeBlanc, who is hopeful approvals will be obtained by the end of this year.

A comprehensive public engagement process involving area residents, property owners and community and business organizations will be required before the development can move forward.

While leases are in place with some of the existing buildings and will need to be honoured, LeBlanc said ground could potentially be broken on the first phase of development next year.

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