Medjuck discusses plans for discovery centre

Responding to a story that ran on this page, developer Frank Medjuck says plans for the building at 1539 Barrington Street are more nuanced than I've let on.

Often, when historic or interesting buildings are redeveloped, the facades are left and the rest of the building is torn down, with an entirely new building going up behind the old facade. In the case of the Waterside development, across from the Historic Properties, heritage groups derided the practice as the "Disneyfication" of heritage.

Medjuck's Barrington building was constructed in 1930 and once housed Zellers. It does not have a heritage designation, but it falls within the proposed Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District, which hopes to maintain a streetscape with the feel of '40s-era Barrington with strict controls on the design and height of new buildings for the street. Meduck's property was exempted from the new requirements, and is governed by older, less restrictive height limitations.

Still, says Medjuck, "I don't want people to think I'm ripping it down. That's not my intention. I'd like to keep it. My father had a store down the street, and as kids we used to run around the old Zellers---I'm partial to it, I want to keep it, I'm sensitive to the street and the scale. I'm trying to look at a situation where we keep the inside as is---that decision hasn't been made to take out the inside. I'm trying to put parking on the lower levels and keep the facades. The insides are in good shape---they're solid concrete."

He'd like to "squeeze everything into the existing frame," and build a new tower, set back from the street above the old building. The old height restrictions allow him up to 282 feet, or either 20 storeys of residential use or 15 storeys of commercial. Halifax council will hear the development proposal in the next few months.

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