Historic Hotel to be Replaced with Bland Mixed-Use Box

Principal Developments Ltd and Paul Skerry Architects have announced plans to demolish the historic Elmwood Apartments at 5185-5189 South Street and replace it with a 6-storey mixed use development consisting of 42 residential units and 8,000 sq. ft of retail. Though not registered as a historic property, this building is one of the most architecturally significant within the city’s proposed Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District.

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Existing Proposed

The existing structure was built as a house, and in 1896 converted to a hotel, and later apartments. The building is worn, and needs some cosmetic work, and comments from former tenants suggest upgrades to the buildings mechanical systems are also needed. As it is still inhabited by tenants, we believe it is safe and structurally sound.

The proposed replacement building is bland, and appears to be of low architectural quality. It possesses no features that tie it specifically to that site, and it would work equally well on any similar lot in the immediate neighbourhood, where many much more appropriate development sites exist. The developer’s website provided the above rendering which cuts off the street and appears in black and white. A prominent corner requires a signature structurethe Elmwood already is such a structure, unlike the proposed box.

AGBANS attempts to reach a balance of development and historic preservation. We are a pro-development group, supportive of quality developments that improve the city’s built environment. In this case, the opposite will result. Given the existing building’s location, and the significance of its form, we believe a substantial portion of the building must be retained, as the forthcoming Heritage Conservation District intends. We understand that an as-of-right demolition permit has been issued by the city for this property.

A Public Open House will be held on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016, between 7-9 p.m., at The Westin Nova Scotian (The Lunenburg Room), 1181 Hollis Street.

AGBANS urges Haligonians to write their councillor urging them to oppose this demolition. Comments can also be sent to the architects – Mr. Paul Skerry (pauls@pskerry.ca) or Mr. Greg Johnston (gregj@pskerry.ca) who are acting as representatives for the developer, or the developer directly at renthalifax@live.com or via mail 7075 BAYERS ROAD SUITE 211 HALIFAX NS B3L 2C1

The Action Group for Better Architecture in Nova Scotia (AGBANS) was formed in May 2016 to advance the public purposes of architecture and planning. AGBANSs aims include preservation and advocacy. We want to see communities that are forward thinking, but respect our past. For more, see Agbans.ca, on Twitter @theAGBANS, or Facebook.com/theAGBANS

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