Halifax council Tuesday night unanimously adopted the Bloomfield Master Plan, which outlines the rebuilding of the oft-contested Bloomfield Centre.
The Bloomfield Centre consists of three former school buildings which, over time, have come to be occupied a variety of community, arts and non-profit groups. Citing increased maintenance costs, several years ago the city started evicting many of those groups. The clear aim was to empty and raze the buildings.
But thanks to the advocacy of an energized group of tenants calling themselves Imagine Bloomfield, and the involvement of Ecology Action Centre, city officials took a second, and then a third look at the complex.
The result is a remarkable vision of how to rebuild a neighbourhood. The completed plan calls for the demolition of the 1970s-era Bloomfield School, but renovation of the two older schools---the Fielding Building will be transformed into a Cultural Centre to be owned and managed by the city, and the Commons Building will be owned and managed by non-profit community groups. As well, a new four-storey building will host arts events.
Those buildings will surround green space and on-site day care.
Additionally, two 10-storey apartments buildings will be built along Almon Street, each with retail spaces on the ground level. Twenty townhouses will be built along Agricola and Robie, the residences sitting above commercial and studio space on the street level.
The aim is for at least 20 percent of the housing to be affordable to low-income residents, but the site will also include higher-end condos.
Underlying the rebuilding plan is a sound financial plan, which relies on sale of the housing units and increased property taxes to underwrite part of the reconstruction, with more funding come from government energy efficiency grants for "greening" the older structures. Beyond those funding sources, the project will require a capital infusion of just $630,000 from the city---about twice what is now spent every year simply to maintain the existing buildings. —TB