Gottingen Street affordable housing plan faces appeal

Source: The Chronicle Herald – March 2, 2015

A Halifax community council has approved a development agreement for an affordable housing project for Gottingen Street.

But instead of moving forward, it looks like the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia’s plans may again be delayed.

“We’ll be appealing it,” opponent Edward Edelstein confirmed Monday.

Members of the Halifax and West community council voted last month to approve the residential and commercial development of 2183 and 2215 Gottingen Street by the trust.

Established in 2009, the non-profit group is seeking to build affordable, mixed-income housing in the province.

It bought the two north-end Halifax properties with the help of $3 million from the Nova Scotia Community Services Department and Housing Nova Scotia.

A spokesperson could not be reached Monday, but the goal is to have people like working single moms, seniors and young families with unemployed or underemployed parents be able to afford to stay in the north end, the trust website states.

The development agreement for 2183 Gottingen St., the former Met store site, has a plan for 115 units, including a maximum of 16 studio units and up to 82 one-bedroom units.

There will also be a minimum of 15 two-bedroom units, at least four three-bedroom units and at least 1,000 square feet of commercial space at the sidewalk level of Gottingen Street.

Another 4,000 square feet could be provided at grade level, one level below or one level above Gottingen, the development agreement states.

The property at 2215 Gottingen St., the former site of Diamonds Bar, is bordered by Gottingen, Prince William and Maitland streets.

The development agreement for that site calls for up to 124 residential units, a parking garage and up to 10,000 square feet of commercial space, including a “community room” and the offices of the trust.

This building, called Diamond Apartments in the submitted drawings, will call for at least 15 two-bedroom units, a minimum of four three-bedroom units, up to 97 one-bedroom units and a maximum of 10 studio units.

The plans, designed by Lydon Lynch Architects, required changes to land-use bylaws to adjust the allowable height for these particular properties.

The city allows for buildings up to 50 feet tall on Gottingen Street and 40 feet on Maitland Street, but the trust has said it needed to build higher to be able to include larger family-sized units to help the city bring more families back into the core and make it an economical build.

The plans show the building at 2183 Gottingen will stand 64.5 feet above Gottingen Street. As the land slopes down toward Maitland Street, the building on that side will rise 81.4 feet above street level.

Drawings of the Diamond building feature a staggered front on Gottingen Street, with the first section rising 53.2 feet and the second, set back 15.2 feet, rising another 39.2 feet for a total of 92.4 feet on the Gottingen Street side.

The building will stand 110.3 feet from street level on Maitland.

Edelstein, the president and owner of Walk-Eh? Enterprise Ltd. and Eco Green Homes, led a group of business and landowners in an unsuccessful appeal before the Nova Scota Utility and Review Board in 2014 related to the city’s “schedule Q” land-use bylaw, which opened up the height restrictions.

His group, he said, contends that this “is illegal” and that “council is acting in a discretionary manner.”

A small-scale developer who owns nearby properties that include affordable units, Edelstein said the city turned down one of his proposals for a Maitland Street property because it would have been 40.9 feet tall, as opposed to 40 feet.

“Gottingen Street’s a hot spot for development, and what they’re doing is they’re saying to one developer you can have two or three times the height exemption, and there’s no requirement for affordable housing in the development agreement,” Edelstein said.

The group has not yet filed an appeal of the development agreement, but he said the plan is to do so before the deadline next Monday.

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