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-   -   [Halifax] RBC Waterside Centre | 37 m | 9 fl | Completed (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum//showthread.php?t=144928)

fenwick16 Apr 29, 2011 11:03 AM

I think the Waterside project needs special consideration from the municipality. The municipality could be doing much more to help this development proceed.

A few things that the HRM could do:

1) Provide tax credits. Projects along Barrington Street are getting tax credits from the muicipality for restoration projects. Although this isn't on Barrington Street, Ben McCrea is spending extra money to maintain the facades. Although some people are against such developments, which only maintain the facade, if this were an actual restoration project then it should be through a government agency that can afford such restorations - such as the Citadel Hill Fortress through Parks Canada.

2) Trying to incorporate underground parking into an old heritage development that wasn't built to accommodate such a structure. Now the structure has to be almost completely demolished and excavated in order to build the underground parking. Couldn't the municipality relax the rules to make it less expensive and less destructive for Ben McCrea to develop this property? In other words, require less parking for this development. I know that adding 9 storeys will require that the internal structure must be rebuilt; but by decreasing the underground parking it won't need as much excavation.

3) Ben McCrea is trying to make it LEEDS certified which will add to the initial capital cost. Possibly, Ben McCrea and the municipality should just forget this worthy goal and instead just proceed with the development without the LEEDS certification. The municipality isn't helping Ben McCrea with this goal - if they were then they would have done everything to make the easement proceed as quickly as possible.


It really brothers me that some people with the municipality (not all) are taking an adversarial approach to dealing with developers. As can be seen with the Barrington Street historic district, the municipality has to work with developers by including tax credits in order to see these projects proceed. I also wonder if the HRM is purposely delaying to this project in order for the development agreement to expire. If that is the case, I wonder if Ben McCrea can go to the NSURB for assistance in dealing with the municipality since I think it was through the NSURB that this project was initially approved? (I think the HRM vote was a tie which meant that it couldn't proceed)

djlx2 Apr 29, 2011 1:33 PM

I'm not sure exactly what the developer has in mind or what exactly his timeline, but the development/municipality communication here could definitely ought to get some specifics hammered out if this project is to move forward in the right direction. Re: underground parking, I don't know if you can do anything about the necessity of parking, but definitely building up something that doesn't work and having to turn to restoration is slowing things down. Is this about the municipality's rigid ideas or is this a matter of miscommunication? Perhaps there are just general concerns in terms of parking and one of the problems with the underground concept is very confused navigation of vehicles. The most important element is likely the LEEDs certification in terms of direction with this project. Is it perhaps that not having the LEEDs has hampered momentum? certainly it seems like the municipality (why?) is intentionally veering development away from its initial direction, so perhaps that has discouraged Ben McCrea and set him off in the wrong directions. Point being that the lack of encouragement and easement from the municipality re:development, could be creating more fears than are really necessary and troubling in terms of sustainability of this project as a whole. Last, vague on the details of the HRM agreement. Could it not proceed because it was a tie? Or are increased expectations causing further setbacks? Perhaps emotions have gone too high? :shrug:


Quote:

Originally Posted by fenwick16 (Post 5259602)
I think the Waterside project needs special consideration from the municipality. The municipality could be doing much more to help this development proceed.

A few things that the HRM could do:

1) Provide tax credits. Projects along Barrington Street are getting tax credits from the muicipality for restoration projects. Although this isn't on Barrington Street, Ben McCrea is spending extra money to maintain the facades. Although some people are against such developments, which only maintain the facade, if this were an actual restoration project then it should be through a government agency that can afford such restorations - such as the Citadel Hill Fortress through Parks Canada.

2) Trying to incorporate underground parking into an old heritage development that wasn't built to accommodate such a structure. Now the structure has to be almost completely demolished and excavated in order to build the underground parking. Couldn't the municipality relax the rules to make it less expensive and less destructive for Ben McCrea to develop this property? In other words, require less parking for this development. I know that adding 9 storeys will require that the internal structure must be rebuilt; but by decreasing the underground parking it won't need as much excavation.

3) Ben McCrea is trying to make it LEEDS certified which will add to the initial capital cost. Possibly, Ben McCrea and the municipality should just forget this worthy goal and instead just proceed with the development without the LEEDS certification. The municipality isn't helping Ben McCrea with this goal - if they were then they would have done everything to make the easement proceed as quickly as possible.


It really brothers me that some people with the municipality (not all) are taking an adversarial approach to dealing with developers. As can be seen with the Barrington Street historic district, the municipality has to work with developers by including tax credits in order to see these projects proceed. I also wonder if the HRM is purposely delaying to this project in order for the development agreement to expire. If that is the case, I wonder if Ben McCrea can go to the NSURB for assistance in dealing with the municipality since I think it was through the NSURB that this project was initially approved? (I think the HRM vote was a tie which meant that it couldn't proceed)


resetcbu1 Apr 30, 2011 4:48 AM

This is why people are staying in the burbs, lower taxes, lower prices ,and people wanna work close to home.

excerpt from todays CH:
Quote:

HRM budget passes ahead of schedule
Five councillors opposed, criticize accelerated vote
By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE City Hall Reporter

The general taxation rates on residential property — based on $100 of assessment — will be set at 70.88 cents for the urban area, 69.18 cents for the suburban area and 68.50 cents for the rural area.

The general rates of taxation on commercial and business occupancy will be set at $3.274 for the urban and suburban areas and $2.928 for the rural area.

And when the tax rate for office or retail is the same, and rent is cheap ,why wouldn't they ? Time for council to get their heads out of their asses and take a look at what many other people on here realize give some incentive and fix this huge problem that will turn out to be a serious blight in the futue. Or do they just not care?

someone123 Apr 30, 2011 5:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by resetcbu1 (Post 5260634)
And when the tax rate for office or retail is the same, and rent is cheap ,why wouldn't they ? Time for council to get their heads out of their asses and take a look at what many other people on here realize give some incentive and fix this huge problem that will turn out to be a serious blight in the futue. Or do they just not care?

The councillors are products of the current setup. Residents get to vote so they shift the tax burden onto businesses. Most residents now are suburban so they shift the tax burden onto the core areas.

I don't think it was ever a planned conspiracy but it just happens naturally in council when councillors vote against whatever would cost their residents more. Tax reform is not popular.

Empire Apr 30, 2011 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djlx2 (Post 5259648)
I'm not sure exactly what the developer has in mind or what exactly his timeline, but the development/municipality communication here could definitely ought to get some specifics hammered out if this project is to move forward in the right direction. Re: underground parking, I don't know if you can do anything about the necessity of parking, but definitely building up something that doesn't work and having to turn to restoration is slowing things down. Is this about the municipality's rigid ideas or is this a matter of miscommunication? Perhaps there are just general concerns in terms of parking and one of the problems with the underground concept is very confused navigation of vehicles. The most important element is likely the LEEDs certification in terms of direction with this project. Is it perhaps that not having the LEEDs has hampered momentum? certainly it seems like the municipality (why?) is intentionally veering development away from its initial direction, so perhaps that has discouraged Ben McCrea and set him off in the wrong directions. Point being that the lack of encouragement and easement from the municipality re:development, could be creating more fears than are really necessary and troubling in terms of sustainability of this project as a whole. Last, vague on the details of the HRM agreement. Could it not proceed because it was a tie? Or are increased expectations causing further setbacks? Perhaps emotions have gone too high? :shrug:

There was a report that HRM wanted to extent a cooling water lateral beyond Waterside if they went forward with an easement through Historic Properties and McCrae was opposed to that. Not sure how accurate that is but if that is the case it might explain the foot dragging by HRM to approve just the Waterside site.

fenwick16 Apr 30, 2011 12:21 PM

This link explains the easement issue very well from both sides - the municipality's position and Ben McCrea's position - municipal document explaining the easement issue

This is an excerpt from the municipality document:

Staff subsequently proposed, in writing to The Armour Group, that the proposed nominal easement act as a common service corridor to allow the Municipality or other parties access at their sole expense. The Armour Group reviewed staff’s proposal and indicated in writing that this approach is not reasonable or practical, owing to the location of the easement and the limited scope of same, as such is not acceptable (See Attachment A, December 23, 2010 correspondence from The Armour Group Limited).

Staff appreciate the points raised by The Armour Group and their notion that the 20 foot sewer easement to the south be used as an alternate for future systems, whether private of public.

The infrastructure that has been put in place to date by The Armour Group does not have capacity to service buildings beyond the Waterside Center block. The other property within the Waterside block is the Morse’s Tea building. The owner of the Morse’s Tea building has expressed an interest in the Waterside system. Staff believe any arrangement between the two developments within the same block may ultimately have to be left to the private property owners to resolve; otherwise, it is very unlikely that The Armour Group and HRM will reach agreement on the easement through Historic Properties.

fenwick16 May 12, 2011 10:19 AM

posted from a different thread
Quote:

Originally Posted by sdm (Post 5274686)
Waterside centre is still waiting for papers related to the easement from the city, which has been very clearly stated in the media. I am not sure i can agree with you that Waterside centre developer is the same. Besides, Waterside Centre began construction but halted it because the paper work was not in place and the city wanted changes to the easement of which the developer didn't suspect was going to be as big of an issue. You should add to your list Halkirk development as well as it was approved before even waterside centre, yet nothing has started.

That said, yes developments need to take place quicker, but real estate developments are market driven.

I have to agree with you regarding the Waterside. The same developer has done Historic Properties and Founders Square - here is a link to the Armour Developments website - link

If the easement papers haven't been signed then people on this forum should be contacting Councillor Sloane to find out "why not". Allowing a prominent corner in downtown Halifax to sit that way is inexcusable. Requiring Ben McCrea to share an easement through Historic Properties, that will be dug up numerous times, is not reasonable. Here is a link from the municipal website explaining that issue - link

Councillor Sloane - this is your district, you are the one who should be looking for a solution. Why aren't you standing up at HRM Council and requesting tax credits and funds to restore the Waterside buildings to their original condition? By this time, Ben McCrea might be happy to oblige. Otherwise, why aren't you doing whatever you can to see the Waterside proceed with its additional 9 storeys?

The other possible solution is for the Heritage enthusiasts to raise money to buy the buildings back and restore them. This is more reasonable than contributing money in order to pay lawyers to appeal development proposals.

Empire May 12, 2011 4:04 PM

I would like to see the province buy the buildings and restore them. They should be able to do a land swap with Armour somewhere in the CBD that would be acceptable to Armour so they could build = to or better than the Waterside proposal?

-Harlington- May 12, 2011 5:38 PM

Someon needs to do something thats for sure, this place looks all bombed out and just plain bad,

its killing that whole area

spaustin May 13, 2011 12:39 AM

Perfect example of how our demolition laws are broken. It happens too often that property owners proceed when they're not really ready. Even if that easement were signed today, I haven't heard that McCrea has a tenant, so Waterside Centre might still sit with no activity. If the convention centre gets the go ahead and begins preleasing, that will further cut into his potential clients and the Roy might soon be entering the market as additional competition. If demolition of the Waterside block had been delayed, we would still have a collection of buildings on site instead of our own homage to London during the Blitz. Think of all the other sites around town where this has happened. Trinity Church has been gone for what, two years now, to be replaced with a gravel parking lot and the Trinity Tower is nowhere close to proceeding. The Birks Block (area around Dennis Building across from Grande Parade) was originally demolished for a project that has never happened. Over on the Dartmouth waterfront, that stretch above Alderney Drive and King has been empty forever for the same reasons. In the North End, they took down that church near the Hydrostones and the site now sits empty. I'm sure there are many other examples. We really need to tighten up the demolition process to stop needless destruction that just ends up hurting the whole neighbourhood. Demolition doesn't take that long. Developers should be required in development agreements to wait until they're ready to proceed with actual construction.

Empire May 13, 2011 3:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spaustin (Post 5275926)
Perfect example of how our demolition laws are broken. It happens too often that property owners proceed when they're not really ready. Even if that easement were signed today, I haven't heard that McCrea has a tenant, so Waterside Centre might still sit with no activity. If the convention centre gets the go ahead and begins preleasing, that will further cut into his potential clients and the Roy might soon be entering the market as additional competition. If demolition of the Waterside block had been delayed, we would still have a collection of buildings on site instead of our own homage to London during the Blitz. Think of all the other sites around town where this has happened. Trinity Church has been gone for what, two years now, to be replaced with a gravel parking lot and the Trinity Tower is nowhere close to proceeding. The Birks Block (area around Dennis Building across from Grande Parade) was originally demolished for a project that has never happened. Over on the Dartmouth waterfront, that stretch above Alderney Drive and King has been empty forever for the same reasons. In the North End, they took down that church near the Hydrostones and the site now sits empty. I'm sure there are many other examples. We really need to tighten up the demolition process to stop needless destruction that just ends up hurting the whole neighbourhood. Demolition doesn't take that long. Developers should be required in development agreements to wait until they're ready to proceed with actual construction.

Council has learned nothing from all of the demolition that has occurred. Birks is a prime example. That building was a solid structure made of granite, marble and brass and no one ever uses it as an example of what is wrong with the system. When a building such as Trinity Anglican is demolished the tax rate should stay the same after demolition. We potentially could be walking into two more disasters. Roy completely demolished and left for years due to "changing market conditions" and the Discovery Centre bombed out for years due to "changing market conditions".

No one in planning or on council sees this widespread demolition as an issue.

fenwick16 May 13, 2011 3:56 AM

With the tax rate in the downtown area already so high, increasing commercial taxes would make the downtown area even less attractive for development. I prefer the plan approved for Barrington Street where there are tax incentives for development. For example, I don't see how tax penalties would help with a building such as a church when churches are already suffering financially because of declining church attendance.

Commercial tax payers can only afford so much, just as individual taxpayers can only afford a certain tax level. At some tax level, buildings will just sit abandoned instead of demolished. When it costs so much to restore a heritage property, and once it is restored the building owner will have to pay more in tax, then what is the incentive for restoration? In the case of the Waterside, having tax credits might encourage Ben McCrea to proceed.

fenwick16 May 13, 2011 1:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djlx2 (Post 5259648)
...
Last, vague on the details of the HRM agreement. Could it not proceed because it was a tie? Or are increased expectations causing further setbacks? Perhaps emotions have gone too high? :shrug:

The initial vote when the Waterside was presented to HRM Council a few years ago was 9 in favour and 9 against. That wasn't a majority vote in favour, so the development agreement was rejected by HRM Council. After the HRM vote, Ben McCrea was prepared to abandon this project (as reported in the local media at the time of the vote). It was through the previous Premier MacDonald that this development was encouraged and it was ultimately approved through the NSURB.

In hindsight, Ben McCrea should have abandoned this project since it is apparent that he is getting no support from the municipality. Unfortunately the residents of the HRM are the ones who have to suffer the eyesore that remains. This can't simply be blamed on Ben McCrea, but should also be blamed on the municipality for taking such an adversarial, and I believe, a vindictive approach to this development. The heritage enthusiasts whom I support in principle, are also to blame in expecting private developers to shoulder the responsibility of heritage preservation in the municipality.

Empire May 13, 2011 3:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fenwick16 (Post 5276130)
With the tax rate in the downtown area already so high, increasing commercial taxes would make the downtown area even less attractive for development. I prefer the plan approved for Barrington Street where there are tax incentives for development. For example, I don't see how tax penalties would help with a building such as a church when churches are already suffering financially because of declining church attendance.

Commercial tax payers can only afford so much, just as individual taxpayers can only afford a certain tax level. At some tax level, buildings will just sit abandoned instead of demolished. When it costs so much to restore a heritage property, and once it is restored the building owner will have to pay more in tax, then what is the incentive for restoration? In the case of the Waterside, having tax credits might encourage Ben McCrea to proceed.

I have been for tax incentives for a long time. Tax breaks for restoration of heritage properties and tax holidays for new construction in the CBD. Taxes are not being collected on a building that hasn't been built so to forgive a year or two in taxes on a new build isn't costing the city. I would tax properties where demolition has taken place and nothing is being built. Reducing the assessment on such properties is an incentive to demolish as we can see all over downtown.

JET May 13, 2011 4:44 PM

all the hurry up and wait; and to think that we could be going to O'carroll's for a brew and a tune.:shrug:

fenwick16 Jun 13, 2011 11:19 PM

Unfortunately, I don't have any news on the Waterside. I just wondered if anyone had seen any activity at the site recently or had heard any rumours?

DigitalNinja Jun 14, 2011 12:37 AM

Nothing. This thread should have the U/C tag removed though.

eastcoastal Jun 14, 2011 10:29 PM

Meanwhile - work next door...
http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1248522.html

fenwick16 Jun 14, 2011 10:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eastcoastal (Post 5315340)

A line from the Morse Tea story regarding the Waterside - Armour Group’s $16-million, nine-storey development has been waiting for more than a year for an easement from the city that would allow the company to pipe sea water to the Waterside to help reduce the project’s cooling and heating costs.

Is this really the case? If it is then it is no wonder that downtown Halifax is struggling. It is amazing that there is any development at all in the downtown core.

someone123 Jun 14, 2011 10:51 PM

It's not clear that this would proceed even with the easement.

Maybe they should look at doing apartments.


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