Case 22728- Stairs House, 5241-5247 South Street, Halifax

Updated:

On July 13, 2020, The Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (HPPAC) reviewed the applicant’s development agreement application and recommend that it be approved with considerations. The concurrent substantial alteration application (which is necessary to make significant changes to a heritage property) was approved by Regional Council on November 17, 2020. Municipal staff are now negotiating the draft development agreement with the applicant (See Status section for more details). Additional updates will be available here in the future.

Request

WSP Canada Inc, on behalf of Summer Wind Holdings Limited, has applied to obtain a development agreement to construct an eight-storey (plus penthouse) multi-unit dwelling on the registered heritage property at 5241-5247 South Street, in addition to 5230 Harvey Street and 5240-5242-5244-5246 Harvey Street. This development agreement is being sought in accordance with Section 5.9 of the Regional Centre Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy (Centre Plan).

Background

5241-5247 South Street was registered as a municipal heritage property in 1985 due to the presence of the Stairs House, which was constructed in 1838. The property also contains a mid-block multi-unit dwelling which, as per the applicant’s Heritage Impact Statement (see below), has little heritage value. 

Stairs House is a prime example of early 19th century residential suburban growth in Halifax, which extended outward from the fortified original grid. Stairs House is situated on the north side of South Street with a southerly exposure facing the street. The original dwelling is a 1.5 storey wood-framed cottage designed in the Georgian architectural style. Stairs House has numerous character defining elements, including: 
•    Georgian classical style and general symmetry;
•    Scottish dormers in the local tradition on front roof;
•    Palladian window in front central pediment gable;
•    Symmetrical five bay front façade with central entrance porch with low sloped roof;
•    6/6 front facing windows; 
•    Ironstone foundation; and
•    Three original chimneys. 

Over the years, Stairs House has undergone several modifications, such as:
•    The north-eastern roof was raised to two storeys;
•    A 26 x 28 foot, three-storey addition was added to the dwelling’s rear;
•    Small wood frame and brick-clad additions were added to the dwelling’s east end; and
•    The dwelling was cladded in vinyl siding (likely covering wood shingles). 

5240-5242-5244-5246 Harvey Street contains a two-storey, wood-framed-and-clad dwelling with classical detail and trim. The dwelling pre-dates 1965, though additions were added between 1914 and 1951. The building’s façade is characterized by: 
•    A low-pitch bracketed roof; 
•    Bracketed and pedimented paired entry doors with a shallow projecting two-sided bay window above;
•    An Oeil-de-bouef window; and
•    A double height, shallow projecting bay window. 

5240-5242-5244-5246 Harvey Street also has a rubble stone wall that straddles the western property line. This wall is shown on a 1931 map, which means it pre-dates suburban expansion and represents a rare surviving portion of early Halifax fieldwork. 

5230 Harvey Street contains a two-storey multi-unit dwelling. The applicant’s Heritage Impact Statement suggestions that this building contribute little heritage value to the site. 

Neither Harvey Street property is a registered heritage property. 
 

Proposal

The applicant’s proposal illustrates their intention to consolidate 5241-5247 South Street with the two Harvey Street properties to create a through lot. The pre-existing development agreement will be discharged and replaced with a new development agreement that permits an eight-storey (plus penthouse) multi-unit dwelling on the consolidated lot. The dwelling will contain approximately 112 dwelling units and 83 underground parking spaces (see Submitted Documents for more details).

If approved, the applicant will restore Stairs House to its original form and design, including: the restoration of original architectural features that have been removed; the removal of modern rear and side additions; and the removal of vinyl siding. The restored Stairs House will be incorporated into a new multi-unit dwelling, provide entry into said structure, and contain amenity space and dwelling units. The remaining buildings would be demolished. 
 

Process

View a summary of the development agreement process. Following the review stages of the application process, staff will prepare a recommendation report, including a development agreement, for Community Council’s consideration. Before a decision is made on the application, a virtual public hearing will be advertised and held. All interested parties are encouraged to participate in the virtual public hearing and/or submit written comments directly to Community Council (once the hearing date has been set). 

The applicant’s proposal also requires a second application which staff are processing concurrently – a substantial alteration application. This type of application is a heritage-focused application which is required by Provincial Legislation (i.e., Nova Scotia Heritage Property Act) when significant changes are proposed to a registered heritage property. The substantial alterations must be reviewed by HRM’s Heritage Advisory Committee and approved by Regional Council.

View the document that shows the relationship between the two applications. Both applications must be approved before the applicant can pursue the proposed development. 

Status

In order to gain public input on the development agreement application, over 1,000 letters were sent to property owners and tenants within proximity of the subject site inviting comments on the applicant’s proposal. Nineteen submissions were received prior to the deadline: 12 respondents did not support the application; four respondents offered mixed support; two respondents offered full support; and one respondent took no stance.  View the public engagement summary

The applicant’s proposal was reviewed at the Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee’s (HPPAC) July 13, 2020 meeting. The HPPAC recommended the application be approved with key considerations. View the meeting minutes, along with the HPPAC’s motion. The public comments and HPPAC discussion were then forwarded to the applicant for consideration. 

The development agreement application was then paused while staff focused on the substantial alteration application. Staff prepared a report to discuss the proposed alterations to the heritage property at 5241-5247 South Street; the report reviewed by the Heritage Advisory Committee on September 23, 2020. The Committee made a positive recommendation on the substantial alteration application. Council then approved the application on November 17, 2020. 

Now that the substantial changes to the registered heritage property have been approved, staff’s focus has shifted back to the development agreement application. Staff are currently negotiating a draft development agreement with the applicant. Once negotiations are complete, staff will prepare their recommendation application; a link to the staff report will be provided here in the future.  

Documents Submitted for Evaluation

The applicant has submitted plans and studies required by municipal staff to properly evaluate the application. The details of this application may change before consideration or approval by Regional Council.

Additional Documents (March 2020)


Original Documents

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:

Jesse Morton

Planner II - Heritage

Planning and Development

Telephone: 902.497.7655

Mailing Address

HRM Planning and Development

PO Box: 1749,

Halifax,

Nova Scotia,

B3J 3A5

Attention: Genevieve Hachey & Jesse Morton (Case 22728, Stairs House)