News / Halifax

'The case hasn't been made:' Proposed addition to Halifax heritage building divides committee

Six-story addition to Benjamin Wier House on Hollis Street would cantilever over existing structure.

Benjamin Wier House -- named after a Nova Scotia MLA -- at 1459 Hollis Street.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Benjamin Wier House -- named after a Nova Scotia MLA -- at 1459 Hollis Street.

A proposed development on Hollis Street will go before Halifax city council with no recommendation from the city’s Heritage Advisory Committee.

At its meeting Wednesday, the committee was evenly split – five to five – on whether to recommend Halifax Regional Council approve or not approve a proposed addition to the historic Benjamin Wier House at 1459 Hollis Street.

The proposed addition would be a six-storey, mixed-use commercial and residential structure cutting off a small addition in the back of the building made in the late 1800s, and cantilevering over the back of the existing two and a half storey, four-unit commercial building.

The completed project would look like two separate structures from the street, but would be joined in the middle, with a passageway through the heritage building into the addition. Two dormers in the back would have to be removed, along with the 1800s addition and some balconies.

City staff’s assessment of the project said the proposal – put forward by the W M Fares Group – failed to meet six of 12 standards for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

Despite that, staff recommended the committee approve the proposal.

An artist's rendering of the addition proposed by the W M Fares Group.

Contributed

An artist's rendering of the addition proposed by the W M Fares Group.

“If it fails a standard, it should fail,” said Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia research committee chair Elizabeth Pacey during the meeting Wednesday.

Pacey sent a letter to the committee urging it to reject the proposal based on its failure to meet the standards.

The committee’s vice-chair, Jason Cooke, disagreed with Pacey that failing on one standard should be enough to reject it, but said, “the case hasn’t been made” as to why the development should go forward.

For Cooke, and others on the committee, the big sticking point was the cantilevering, which would extend seven feet out over the existing building.

There was concern among the committee members that snow and ice could build up under that section, causing damage to the roof of the heritage building, and that the overhang would be visible from the street.

Coun. David Hendsbee – one of two councillors on the committee, but the only one in attendance Wednesday – voted in favour of the proposal.

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