Simple Economics: The Challenge to Downtown Development

Source: Halifax Chamber of Commerce: Business Voice – September 2011

When Purdy’s Wharf was completed in 1990, it became an iconic part of Halifax’s waterfront. More than just a stunning piece of architecture, Purdy’s is regarded today as the marquee place to rent office space in downtown Halifax. It also has the distinction of being the last major office complex built in the downtown.

In the 21 years since Purdy’s was completed, Halifax has undergone great change. The city hosted a G7 Summit, the city became part of a regional municipality and it even flirted with the idea of hosting a Common-wealth Games.

“It’s pure economics,” says Ross Cantwell, an associate with Colliers International, a commercial real estate services company. “Development isn’t as complex as people would think. It’s basic math.”



Big changes on Gottingen Street

Source: The Coast – Reality Bites

Big changes are in store for Gottingen Street. A new non-profit group dedicated to providing affordable housing is forging ahead with a proposal for two eight- to 10-storey apartment buildings. One is on the site of the former Diamonds bar at the foot of Cunard Street, across Prince William Street from the YMCA; the second is on the site of the much-neglected MET store, Mitchell’s Enviro Treasures, a half-block south of Diamonds, between Alteregos Cafe and the Good Food Emporium.

The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia is a new organization founded by Ross Cantwell, a real estate consultant with Colliers International who has extensive experience in affordable housing agencies. The Housing Trust’s board reads like a Who’s Who of the local development industry: It includes Cantwell, developer Louis Lawen and executives associated with many of the largest property firms in Nova Scotia.

“We’ve got designers, we’ve got guys who build things, we’ve got lawyers, mortgage brokers, the whole bit,” says Cantwell, explaining that he brought together the expertise to build new housing quickly.



PAL Halifax Memorandum of Understanding

PAL Halifax has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia in the hopes of securing affordable apartments for our members in a development currently being planned for Gottingen St. in Halifax. Gottingen St. is enjoying a mini-resurgence as an arts-based neighbourhood!

In exchange for a potential ‘set-aside’ of affordable units for our members, PAL Halifax is assisting the Housing Trust in programming the ground-floor space to be a vibrant complement to the Gottingen Street community and to our member tenants as well.

Several members of the PAL Halifax board attended a meeting with the Gottingen St. Merchants’ Association, in which Ross Cantwell, President of the Housing Trust, presented preliminary schemes for the building. Much valuable input was received from the assembled group. While work remains to be done on the part of the Housing Trust and their architect to bring the proposed facility more in line with the scale and character of the community, PAL Halifax is incredibly excited about the prospects of providing affordable housing to our members in this burgeoning arts community.