By Justin Hartling
The Skye Halifax project should not move forward according to Paul MacKinnon.
MacKinnon, who is the executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, says “the project, if approved, will
create uncertainty, and therefore undermine the downtown plan.”
A release written by MacKinnon on the DHBC website opens by saying “HRM Council should not approve plan amendments that would allow the 48-storey Skye Development to proceed.”
The twin 48 storey buildings, which include both condos and commercial space, will cost 350 million dollars to build. However, according to MacKinnon, all of that 350 million would be paid by the developers, United Gulf Development, and none by the city.
The biggest concern with the buildings that would be located on Granville Street is the height. A bylaw in Halifax only allows construction of buildings up to 66 metres without city councils approval. Skye Halifax buildings are each 150 metres tall.
Mackinnon says, “The obvious pro is the substantial municipal taxes earned. It would also bring more people to live in the downtown, and fill in that empty block. All of these things are good – but all could be accomplished with a 20 storey building, which is the allowable height under HRMbyDesign.”
The largest building in Halifax currently is Fenwick Towers which reaches 32 storeys. The Skye Halifax project is 16 storeys taller than that.
The last time a building in Halifax was built that was taller than 20 storeys was in 1990.
The original plans by United Gulf Developments was a project called “Twisted Sister”, which were two 27 storeys buildings in the same location. After a hard fought battle, United Gulf Development finally received approval for the project, but in 2010 the permit lapsed and the Skye Halifax proposal was put forth.
The original height bylaw was put into effect in 2009.
Steve Streatch, Councillor for the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley, voted in favour for the project to move forward.
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Streatch points out that the original “twisted sisters” project was over the height restrictions as well and says “I felt a consistent decision had already been made.”
“I for one want to see new, modern development in our city. Vertical height is a trend that represents new thinking and we should not be afraid of it,” Streatch explains.
Peter Lund, Councillor for Hammonds Plains – St. Margaret’s, agrees.
“Other cities have shifted towards taller slender buildings rather than short massive buildings, in order to achieve affordability,” Lund explains.
Lund goes on to say, “If costs can be lower achieved through height, then this should be considered. If we can get people to move downtown, then commercial will follow.”
MacKinnon says, “If the project came back within the HRMbyDesign guidelines, we would be 100% for it.”
The next step for Skye Halifax is a public hearing process.