Great news for Halifax. After 9 years, the $75 million waterfront development is getting underway.

Posted on 21. Apr, 2010 by in News

THE SALTER STREET block project has a toehold on the Halifax waterfront.

“After nine years of shuffling papers, we’re excited to get going,” Frank Medjuck of Centennial Group Ltd. said in an interview.

Waterfront Development Corp. Ltd. said Tuesday that the Halifax development company, led by his brother Ralph, will take custody on June 1 of 1.4 hectares of land between Salter Street and Bishop’s Landing that will house a $75-million development.

“We’re finally getting on the site,” said Frank Medjuck. “We’re very happy.”

Footings for the project are scheduled to be in place by June 2011.

The project will include a 142-unit apartment building, a 98-unit boutique hotel, 75,000 square feet of retail space and a half-hectare public park.

Colin MacLean, president and chief executive officer of Waterfront Development, said in an interview that Centennial has signed a 99-year lease on the Salter block lands with the provincial Crown corporation at “fair market” rates.

MacLean wouldn’t disclose lease terms, but he said the development, which could take three to five years to complete, is significant.

“The city needs to see some development,” he said, adding that the project also addresses the need to maintain public access to the waterfront.

“We need to take care of our greatest asset, the waterfront, so that everybody can benefit from it.”

“Once long-term development is complete, Salter will be the single-largest open space on the Halifax waterfront for the public to enjoy.”

The project will feature two wave-shaped buildings — a five-storey hotel and a 12-storey apartment complex that will step down to five-storeys at the waterfront and include ground-level shopping.

The development will also include an all-season indoor garden linking the downtown core to the park and the harbour.

The original concept included a 40-storey tower, but that controversial design element was dropped, MacLean said.

Medjuck said Tuesday’s announcement, while important, wouldn’t mean “shovels in the ground” until further design work and site testing are complete.

“This is milestone number one. The key achievement is the possession date.”

The largest development on the Halifax waterfront since Bishop’s Landing was completed, the Salter block project could create 900 construction jobs and generate more than $7 million in tax revenues, the corporation said.

Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris called Tuesday’s announcement good news for Halifax and for the provincial economy.

“The development will create jobs and new business that will draw residents and tourists to our waterfront.”

Last spring, Waterfront Development completed construction of the Salter boardwalk, part of the Halifax Harbourwalk, to ensure public access to the waterfront throughout project’s construction.

Centennial Group and its affiliates, including Centennial Hotels Ltd. and Universal Group, have built, owned and managed major real estate developments in Halifax, Toronto and other Canadian centres in the past 40 years.

( berskine@herald.ca)

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