The Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s executive director Paul MacKinnon says with shovels expected in the ground by June for the Argyle and Grafton Shared Streetscape Project – with the tender having been awarded Tuesday – the street will soon become Halifax’s own “big outdoor cafe.”
The modern design will see the creation of a safe space for pedestrians and vehicles alike, turning it into an “urban plaza,” though construction also means patio licences will not be granted for the 2017 season.
Despite this reduction in patios, and the approximately 17 weeks of construction, MacKinnon said the project will still see a benefit for the area.
“The whole idea of doing a transformation of the street came from the businesses,” MacKinnon said.
“Right now, there is certainly concern about the fact, there’s been a lot of construction. Construction fatigue has been felt… but there’s never a good time to do construction so I think the general sense is ‘Let’s get it done, let’s get it right and when it’s all finished, like a house renovation, it’s going to be completely fabulous.'”
MacKinnon said several studies have been done into how the project would benefit the area. He said a few years ago, they painted the street an argyle pattern, closed it down on weekends and measured both foot traffic and business.
“What we found is it brought more people to the street and it brought more businesses into the establishments that are there,” he said.
On Tuesday, the tender was awarded to Dexter Construction.
Though construction will be ongoing throughout the summer, MacKinnon stressed that the street will still be open.
“Argyle Street is not being shut down for the summer, so that’s very important to know,” MacKinnon said. “All the businesses are going to be open, and they’re all going to be completely accessible all summer long. So don’t think that you can’t come to Argyle Street. In fact, you should come to Argyle Street and kind of get a sense of, ‘Oh here’s almost your last chance to see the old Argyle Street.'”
– With files from Alexa MacLean, Global News