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‘That corner calls for height’: Halifax developer ‘fighting’ for 25-storey tower

Click to play video: 'Halifax developer not backing down from fight over building height' Halifax developer not backing down from fight over building height
The ‘Willow Tree tower’ is the name of a development application by Armco Capital and although the city says 20-storeys is enough, Armco believes the corner of Robie and Quinpool can ‘handle more'. – Nov 15, 2017

A Halifax developer says it’s working with HRM staff to push for a 25-storey commercial and residential tower, known as the Willow Tree Tower, on the corner of Robie Street and Quinpool Road in Halifax.

“That corner calls for height, we believe it should be the tallest building in the area, given the characteristics of the site and we will continue to seek support for the building as we’ve proposed,” Adam McLean, director of development and sales for Armco Capital, said in an email.

This isn’t the first time the height debate has come before regional council.

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Originally, Armco Capital requested a bylaw amendment to allow for a 29-storey development and although city staff recommended against that height, saying 20 storeys should be the max, regional council at that time, sided with the developer.

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“Prior to the election, it went up to 29 storeys, council made a change which I was against. After the election, it went back down to 20 storeys, council brought it back in line with the staff recommendation and then last night an attempt was made to bring it back up to 25 storeys,” Waye Mason said, the deputy mayor of Halifax.

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Halifax councillors endorse green energy for cogswell development – Feb 2, 2017

After the 2016 municipal election, the development came back to council and the 29-storey proposal was voted down, with regional council siding with the city staff recommendation of a height that falls in line with about a 20-storey maximum.

The 20-storey proposal was supposed to go to a public hearing but Armco instead pushed for the debate to come back to council at 25-storeys.

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Council voted 9-8 in favour of 25-storeys Tuesday night but Halifax legal staff told council two-thirds of the vote was needed in order for the motion to pass.

Armco says they were under the impression it would only take a ‘simple majority’ for the motion to move forward in favour of 25 storeys.

“We are currently working on this with HRM staff to determine if the majority vote was sufficient to carry the motion for 25 storeys,” McLean said.

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The maximum height city staff has recommended for the corner is 20 storeys and the fact that the development was back before council with an extra five storeys included, perplexes some community members.

“I find it puzzling that it came back to city council one more time because the city had already approved to have it come before public hearing at 20 storeys,” Peggy Cameron said, a member of the Friends of the Halifax Common.

The proposal has come with some community backlash who believe a building over 20-storeys would negatively impact public space in the commons and overshadow the neighbourhood.

“This is on the western end of the Halifax Common, so this is a light source for our common. A lot of people enjoy public space outdoors and it would be blocking the view. There’s also concerns about wind and how it would dominate the neighbourhood,” Cameron said.

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Armco says, “should we proceed to a public hearing for 20 storeys, we will continue to make our case for a 25-storey building on that site.”

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