Barrington Street poised for major makeover

Property owners take advantage of $1.2 million in historic preservation funding

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So much for Barrington Street as urban wasteland: Fully nine properties on the street have applied for funding to help rebuild building facades. And city staff is recommending that Halifax council provide the building owners with $200,000 in grant money and just over a million dollars in tax credits to make the renovations become reality. Council will vote on that recommendation today.

The projects recommended for funding are as follows:

Former National Film Board building (1572 Barrington): This is part of Costa Elles' and Chris Tzaneteas' project for the block stretching up to The Argyle on Argyle Street. Plans for the entire block have not been finalized, but the NFB portion of it will include commercial use on the ground floor and residential on the upper floors. The existing NFB facade will be restored (the building behind the facade was destroyed in a fire some years ago). Staff is recommending that this project receive a $100,000 grant and $376,625 in tax credits.

Sam The Record Man (the "red" Harrison building portion of it, 1652 Barrington): Owned by Louis Reznick's Starfish Properties, this project has the first approved by the new HRM By Design planning rules. There will be a one-storey addition set back from the street, with retail on street level and office space above. Staff is recommending a $90,602 and $114,079 in tax credits.

Same The Record Man (the "grey" Canada Permanent Trust portion of it, 1656 Barrington. Same project as the red portion. Staff recommends a $9,398 grant and $130,338 in tax credits.

The Farquahar building (with Venus Pizza at ground level, 1558 Barrington): This will be incorporated into the NFB/Argyle project above. Staff recommends $204,778 in tax credits.

Granite Brewery building (1662 Barrington): part of the Starfish project with Sam The Record Man. Staff recommends $157,273 in tax credits.

Nova Scotia Furnishings/Telus building (1668 Barrington): another Starfish property. Staff recommends $25,493 in tax credits for facade restoration.

Barnder Morris/Attica building (1566 Barrington): Also a Starfish property, staff recommends a $4,585 tax credit for facade restoration.

GM Smith/Girly Boutique building (1717 Barrington): Yet another Starfish property. Staff recommends $3,991 in tax credits.

The Tramway building (1598 Barrington). This is the former Frozen Ocean site. Brother and sister Christian and Heather Rankin are renting the ground floor and will soon open the Obladee Wine Bar (I'll have more on this in Shoptalk next week). They've been recommended for $1,524 in tax credits for constructing a wooden entry into the space.

(See a bigger version of the map above here

The investment by both building owners and the city underscores a new positive attitude about Barrington. The grant money comes straight out of the city budget, and the tax credits are recorded as a loss for budget purposes, but clearly the projects will result in higher assessments, both for the particular projects and on the street generally, so they'll likely result in an increase, not a decrease, in tax revenue over time.

The heritage incentive program that makes the funds available is part of HRM By Design, which created a Barrington Historic District in part for the purpose of funding facade restoration.

There's no guarantee that the projects will actually get built. (Grants and tax credits are to be awarded after completion) and council today may change the formula for funding. If so, I'll update this post.

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