by Carsten Knox
Last week Starfish Properties, the real estate company that owns a number of vacant buildings and storefronts on Barrington Street, released a design plan for the former Sam the Record Man and the businesses directly adjacent, which include the former Granite Brewery and Ginger's Tavern.
It will be the first new development proposed under new HRM By Design rules. The plans detail big changes to the interior, connecting the three properties to each other and with Argyle Street, and adding two more floors above the three existing. The facades of the buildings will be maintained and storefront retail is planned for street level.
"We have a lot of interest for Barrington Street," asserts Starfish property manager Rob Landry. "Contrary to popular belief."
The plans fit nicely with the HRM By Design criteria, suggests HRM heritage planner Bill Plaskett. "Having said that, posting application details are part of the process and it has to go through the new design review committee," he says. "If it goes through, it will be a great renewal" of the buildings.
Heritage Trust president Peter Delefes is encouraged that architect David F. Garrett is on board, but has a few concerns about the design, including that the added floors will be in stark contrast with the existing building; he would prefer something more "sympathetic." Another element Delefes opposes is "facadism," or the preserving of the exterior while gutting the building's interior. "That's not an accepted form of heritage conservation," he says. "It's a concern because it sets a precedent for the whole streetscape."
Starfish will host a public open house for the new project at its offices (1668 Barrington Street, suite 200) December 21 from 7-9pm, beginning the formal HRM By Design process. As early as mid-February work on the buildings could begin, allowing for appeals or any hitches in the new process. —Carsten Knox