Already one of Canada’s most magnificent cities, Halifax, NS, is about to get even better.

In what is to be the biggest city-building project in the history of Halifax, the Cogswell District Redevelopment project will see 16 acres of land currently used for road infrastructure transformed into a mixed-use neighbourhood designed for over 2,500 people to live, work, and play.

To properly contextualize the contribution the redevelopment will mean to Halifax, it helps to understand the former state of the Cogswell Interchange. The original Cogswell Interchange was part of a much larger project called Harbour Drive, which was a multi-lane freeway, planned to run along Halifax’s waterfront the length of the peninsula, says Elora Wilkinson, Project Manager of the project.

“The Interchange…resulted in isolating the North End community from downtown, displacing residents,” says Wilkinson. “The Cogswell Interchange was completed in the early 1970s. As the Interchange is reaching the end of its lifespan, the opportunity to rebuild something new in this space is underway.”

The reimagined space will include high-quality dedicated cycling lanes, multi-use paths, new parks and open spaces, a reimagined transit hub, and a significant central urban square will transform this traffic-centric area into a livable pedestrian friendly area.

Shaping the Future of Halifax

The Cogswell District project will not only convert 16 acres of road infrastructure into a mixed-use neighbourhood, but also extend the entrance of the downtown northwards and reuniting communities separated by the interchange lands.

“The urban street grid will be reinstated and will create development blocks capable of supporting new residential and commercial environments,” says Wilkinson. “A district energy system based on ambient heat recovery from the Halifax Wastewater Treatment Plant will provide a green energy source for buildings constructed within the Cogswell District and beyond.

The completion of the Cogswell District project is expected to cost approximately $122.6 million (gross). Costs may potentially be partially offset by the future land sales of development blocks created by the Cogswell construction. The sale of land, utility cost sharing, and the subsequent property taxes will help off-set the front-end investment and generate long-term recurring revenue for the municipality.

A Gateway Neighbourhood

“During the construction phase, Cogswell has the ability to provide approximately 300 direct and indirect jobs from the construction sector, suppliers and designers,” says Wilkinson. “This project will convert a relatively dead zone at the entrance into our downtown into a gateway neighbourhood that better connects downtown to the north end, and this area to our thriving waterfront. This will build on current tourist draws in the area, further encouraging visitors to our downtown and province. Cogswell will also provide up to an estimated 2.5 million sq ft of mixed-use space and tax revenue up to $3.5 million annually compared to the current zero dollars generated by the highway infrastructure.”

Designed for a bright future, the Cogswell District Project will have a distinct lens on Halifax’s rich history. Representation of the local Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotia culture and heritage is critical to the project’s success and legacy, says Wilkinson. A process to develop an Arts and Commemoration plan for this district is underway, which will prioritize the stories of these communities.

“This work will involve engagement with communities to understand which stories need to be told, and how they should be commemorated throughout the district,” says Wilkinson. “Additionally, through the construction contract, the contractor requires different social benefits, including working alongside of a committee representing these diverse communities to prioritize labour and procurement opportunities throughout construction. The Cogswell project is the first major initiative to include a social benefits program in its contract requirements.”

The Project also strives to meet the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, a program that works to help improve accessibility of the built environment in Canada. “Our Rick Hansen project consultant has advised the project team throughout the design phases on the Rick Hansen standards required to meet certification. This project has put accessible design at the forefront of all design decisions to ensure we are able to meet our commitment of Gold Certification. Based on our current design under construction, we are on track to receive this certification.”

A new neighbourhood will soon be built designed to connect downtown with the north end and waterfront, creating a stronger, more inclusive network of communities. Designed to reflect the aspirations of our community, the new project will help Halifax continue to be a prosperous, growing city that cares about the environment and the wonderful mix of people who contribute to the life, culture, and personality of place that sets Halifax apart.

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