'It's a landmark site': Halifax developer still pushing for 25-storey tower

Council defers decision on proposed tower near Halifax Common

The developer of a proposed 25-storey tower across from the Halifax Common is asking any and all supporters to speak up ahead of an upcoming public meeting into the controversial project.

APL Properties, operated by Armco Capital, wants to build the mixed-use development — called the Willow Tree Tower — at the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street.

The company continues to push for a height of 25 storeys, despite the fact Halifax regional council set a 20-storey maximum for the property last March.

A public hearing into the matter will take place at 6 p.m. at City Hall on Tuesday.

Joachim Stroink, a spokesperson for Armco, said that the current height limit makes the project unfeasible. 

"The economics behind it make it very difficult for us to do at 20," Stroink told CBC News. "It's a landmark site — 25 fits better within the streetscape."

The proposed building will be comprised of rental apartments as well as commercial space on the lower levels. If the developer is allowed to build 25 storeys, the project will also include 10 affordable housing units, Stroink said.

'Doesn't seem to fit'

As the project has been debated over the past few years, local residents have spoken out against the proposal. John Wimberley, who lives near the Common, said he is not swayed by Armco's arguments.

"It doesn't seem to fit the area at all," said Wimberley. "People support density but it needs to be reasonable." 

Stroink and other Armco officials said they believe the opponents of the project are a "vocal minority." 

They've launched a website, willowtreehfx.com, and put out calls on social media encouraging residents in favour of the development to "speak up" before or during Tuesday's hearing.

As a former MLA for Halifax Chebucto, Stroink said he knocked on the doors of every home in the area a number of times. "I only heard about a dozen concerns about the height," he said.

Jimmy Zelios, owner of the Blue Olive Restaurant on Quinpool Road, is one of the people who have decided to heed that call. Zelios said he has emailed Halifax councillors to show his support and plans to attend Tuesday's public hearing.

Zelios said he likes the look of the proposed building and isn't worried about the height.

"I think it'll create more walk-in traffic and be a good thing for the neighbourhood," said Zelios. "I think there's a mood in the city to see growth."

The Armco-owned site is currently home to an office building and a parking garage.