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Old Posted Dec 3, 2015, 4:37 PM
Hali87 Hali87 is offline
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My impression is that there are a few different perspectives supporting varying degrees of preservation for Schmidtville (for the purpose of this post, being the blocks between Clyde and Morris, and excluding Brenton) for varying reasons:

- Local homeowners who just dislike tall buildings generally or who will lose a view/sunlight etc.
- Local homeowners who are are concerned that development will bring their property values down

(I think these two groups are in the minority, but I could be wrong. The area is a mixed of rented and owner-occupied - it's not 3-4 blocks of exclusively "wealthy old-money homeowners" or whatever, although a few people in the neighbourhood might fit into that category.)

- Local tenants who are concerned that redevelopment will drive up rents
- Local businesses who are concerned that redevelopment will drive up commercial rents
- Area residents who like the integrity of the neighbourhood (ie. the lowrise Schmidtville blocks themselves). I agree that it's a very pleasant and unique neighbourhood, and that it's worth preserving
- Cultural Heritage types who see it as a regionally/nationally significant neighbourhood (it was one of the country's earliest "suburbs")

(A lot of my friends fall into the above categories, and I would say that I do as well)

There are probably also area residents who are getting tired of living in a perpetual construction zone. This part of town is never really "orderly" anymore.

One of the concerns that's been pointed out to me is that the new developments adjacent to these blocks set a new precedent for redevelopment/midrise/highrise in the area (I think most of us could agree on this). Thinking this through though, it's likely that the NSLC building will come up for redevelopment, especially because it doesn't have any real heritage value and because it will be one of the last remaining "tired/out-of-place" looking buildings left in the area. Replacing this building would be a good thing, IMO.

Unfortunately what this does is sets up a precedent where a significant chunk of one of the "remaining" Schmidtville blocks has been redeveloped, which makes redevelopment within Schmidtville as a whole more likely. (I often hear similar arguments in favour of this happening, here and in other neighbourhoods such as Agricola or Quinpool). The new developments will almost certainly raise property values in the area (despite what a few people always seem to think for some reason) which increases pressure to redevelop.

I'm not sure how much of these blocks consists of registered heritage, but I think it would be a good idea to preserve the remaining Schmidtville blocks as a heritage district. The NSLC could be excluded and redeveloped, but it should be clear that different rules apply to the rest of the buildings. The architecture and built form are worth preserving, and it does have good heritage value as an actual neighbourhood (it would be analogous to Cabbagetown or the Annex in Toronto, though obviously smaller) and much (most?) of the original neighbourhood has already been redeveloped. The Wright Ave (H) block on the opposite side of Morris would also be worth designating (or including in designated-Schmidtville), for similar reasons (it also has a more concrete history attached).

Although some find this tedious, it would probably actually be a good thing to create and name more heritage districts. Along with protecting the supply of older buildings, it gives Halifax a more identifiable character and makes the city/region easier to market and to navigate.

All of this said, I like this proposal and I would be ok with losing the Victorians if it was reasonable to expect that we wouldn't be losing any more of them in this neighourhood. I agree that we should be doing more to salvage/rescue old houses and move them to vacant lots or something (there are probably all kinds of creative solutions - house boats?). But at this point I think the best we can do is focus on preserving the "intact" Schmitville blocks and redevelop the surrounding area to its fullest potential. The new architectural paradigm for this area seems to be "wacky" so may as well embrace it.

Last edited by Hali87; Dec 3, 2015 at 4:50 PM.
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