A new high-density neighbourhood is being proposed in Halifax that would see the construction of 14 buildings with a total of 3,656 units in an area along Strawberry Hill Street and Windsor Street.

City council is now reviewing a proposal for the “Strawberry Hill Future Growth Node,” which is the name of a development plan submitted by Fathom Studio, an architecture firm based in Dartmouth, on behalf of the developers, Dynamic Properties Co. Ltd. and other investors.

If approved, the plan would bring substantial change to the area. In addition to 14 multi-use buildings, the developers are looking to create a new road connecting Windsor Street and Connaught Avenue to Strawberry Hill Street as well as parkland, publicly accessible open spaces, new sidewalks, and separated walking and biking infrastructure.

“The goal of this plan for Strawberry Hill is to create a vibrant, human focused community at the gateway to mainland and peninsular Halifax,” the submission reads. “The emphasis will be on mixed and diverse land uses, walkability and connectivity, and active streetscapes which compliment the surrounding neighbourhoods.”

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The planners say they wish to avoid “sensitive areas” while increasing density in more robust parts of the community.

The proposal also notes that the 11-acre site — located near Kempt Road, the Mackay Bridge, and the Bedford Highway — is within walking distance of eight schools, 12 bus routes, Mount Saint Vincent University, and the Halifax Shopping Centre.

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Fathom said each building in the proposed development will host a mixture of residential units and commercial storefronts to create an “active, pedestrian-scaled ground floor” that serves both residents and the surrounding neighbourhood.

Municipal staff makes recommendations

A report submitted to council by municipal staff recommends that public representatives approve a planning process for the mixed-use development.

The staff report noted that the proposed development is aligned with some of the municipality’s stated priorities, such as designating areas for higher-densitiy development where there is a high level of existing or proposed transit services. It also said the city supports the development of affordable and walkable communities to help accommodate the city’s growing population.

The project would be part of the municipality’s Regional Centre Plan, which labels certain locations as Future Growth Nodes (FGN). These are sites that can accommodate population growth and neighbourhood development while allowing for more “efficient use” of land, services, and infrastructure.

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“Initiating the comprehensive neighbourhood planning process for the Strawberry Hill FGN and surrounding lands will support new housing and public amenities to be built for current and future residences,” the conclusion section of the staff report reads.

A mock design from Fathom Studio showcases another view of the proposed development.

Halifax Regional Municipality

Halifax’s regional plan has set a 25 per cent growth target for new housing starts in the “regional centre,” where Strawberry Hill is located.

As for financial implications — the public cost of undertaking the neighbourhood’s planning process would be brought into the municipality’s proposed 2024-25 operating budget, if approved.

“The landowners will be responsible for the costs associated with providing required background studies and information,” the municipal report added.

A comprehensive public engagement process involving the area’s residents, community and business organizations, and property owners would be required if the development planning process moves forward.

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“This level of engagement aims to inform the public on the proposal and planning process as well as provide diverse options for gathering public feedback to encourage participation and allow residents to influence designs and recommendations through the planning process,” the report said.

If councillors agree to move forward with the planning process, assessments will begin on the area’s infrastructure and environmental, archeological, cultural, and site components.

The matter is listed on the Halifax Regional Council agenda for Tues. March 26.

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