by Jacob Boon
Developer Joe Ramia wants to change the exterior design elements of his downtown Nova Centre complex, including the elevation above Market Street and the materials to be used at the Centre’s base and tower.
That news comes from an information item headed to next week’s meeting of the Design Review Committee. A new substantive site plan for the development will now need to be brought to the committee in order to approve the proposed changes.
The exact nature of the changes hasn’t been finalized or sent to HRM, and city spokesperson Brendan Elliott couldn’t offer any other details.
“We honestly don’t have any more. This isn’t a case of me trying to hold back information. It’s all very fluid at this point…we don’t know yet.”
Major projects planner Richard Harvey writes in next week’s information item that due to the extent of the modifications and “the length of time that has passed since design of the building was outlined to the public,” a new round of public notification will be required before a full substantive site plan approval process is started in order to consider approving the changes.
Full details of what Ramia is planning won’t be known to residents, neighbours and the city until that time.
“We’ll have to wait,” says Elliott, “as will the public.”
One person eager to see the modifications is Halifax South Downtown councillor Waye Mason.
“I am interested to see what changes are proposed given the concrete pour has been completed for a few months and the form of the building is largely already complete," Mason wrote in a message to The Coast. “It is not usually my practice to attend DRC but I think I will make an exception for this one to understand what is being asked for."
The office, retail, hotel and convention centre complex was initially granted design approval by HRM in June of 2014. But almost since its inception the Nova Centre has been a case study in adjusted rules, quiet development changes and nearly routine secrecy.
Next week’s information item says developer Joe Ramia was aware of these requirements for his planned changes since September of 2015. Reportedly, work on those particular parts of the Nova Centre has been stopped until the modifications are approved.
“In addition to other regular inspections, staff are monitoring site activity on a weekly basis,” Harvey writes.
Construction on the rest of the $500-million project continues. An update on the Nova Centre’s website says the complex is now at its “full expected height,” and more than 250 glass panels have been installed along its sides. It’s also either haunted, or just noisy.
The $164-million convention centre within the construction project is set to open by September 30, after being pushed back from its original completion date this past January. The full Nova Centre is expected to open in January of 2017.