Long-awaited Cogswell District redevelopment moving forward

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The long-delayed Cogswell District redevelopment project is finally moving forward after the land negotiations were finalized between the Halifax Regional Municipality and Crombie Real Estate Investment Trust, according to a release Friday from the municipality.

Work on the project was delayed last year, partly because of the pandemic, but mostly because land negotiations took longer than expected.

But the back and forth between the municipality and the real estate giant has finally come to a head. HRM will acquire four parcels of land from the company in exchange for a newly created parcel of municipal land where the Cogswell interchange currently stands.

Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality

The land acquired by the municipality includes a large parcel at the end of Granville Street, which will be transformed into a park and transit hub. That triangular piece makes up a majority of the land exchange.

The municipality also acquired three smaller parcels, which will be used to enable proper road widths and rights of way, project manager John Spinelli told CBC News.

No money changed hands as part of the exchange agreement. Spinelli said the total land value of the traded parcels are roughly the same, and the easiest thing to do was to simply swap.

"They're both pretty prime lots," he said.

The project is one of the biggest development projects ever planned for the municipality. It would see a new neighbourhood being created, connecting the city's north end, waterfront and the downtown core.

City council adopted an administrative order in July 2020 that would include contract requirements in the tender that would have social benefits, specifically in regard to "workforce development and supplier diversity."

Staff have been engaging with the Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities, and the construction industry, to figure out how that might look.

Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality

Spinelli said the project has been revisited many times in recent years and has continued to adapt as things like accessibility and social benefits become a larger part of the conversation.

"The project is more than it was, and better than it was, as far as delivering on all the promises of Cogswell [District]. It's really quite something," he said.

The construction tender has been released to three pre-approved bidders, and is expected to be awarded by the end of summer 2021 with construction to begin in the fall.

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