Church wants to turn part of property into apartments

HALIFAX – A local church wants the city to let it turn a portion of its unused property into a mixed-use addition, including 67 homes, to help it achieve financial stability.

“We usually run a deficit,” said Valeria MacDonald, an elder at The Presbyterian Church of Saint David.

The proposal, which can be found on the city’s website [PDF], was seen by the Heritage Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

The plan was a approved with a few minor changes and will eventually go before city council.

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The land, about 1.3 hectares in size, has a hall that isn’t being used by the church.

“While we definitely aren’t in it to make a profit, we do have to pay our bills,” said MacDonald.

The proposed seven-storey building would include some commercial space. The church would get $4,000 a month in lease payments.

That income would help offset the $2 million cost of repairs needed in the next 10 years.

“When I first starting coming to Saint David’s in 1975, this building would have been full on a Sunday,” said MacDonald of the church. “But, now, we’re probably averaging between 60 and 70 [people].”

Part of the land under the hall is a graveyard; a crypt is under construction in the basement of the church to eventually house the contents.

The Cathedral Church of All Saints faced a similar challenge years ago.

“People today have perhaps less disposable income that they can access,” said Paul Smith, rector at the church.

The church decided to build a seniors residence next door three years ago.

“This became one of the ways that we could generate both some income to […] sustain the ongoing maintenance of the building,” said Smith. “And, in turn, offer something to the community around us.”

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