A resident in Halifax’s north end is asking for more information on the sale of the city’s Bloomfield Centre after failing to get a response from the district’s councillor.
Earlier in December, David Fright heard from a corporate real estate official with the Halifax Regional Municipality that the former school site had been sold in September and that regional council didn’t have to make any further approvals.
Fright, who lives across from the site, said he still doesn’t know how much the site sold for, who bought it or what’s planned to be constructed.
“I understand there’s certain details the public probably doesn’t need to be privy to, but this all happened three months ago at least,” Fright told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show. “So, we really just need some information. It’s our land. Shouldn’t we be informed of it as the owners of it?”
Since the sale doesn’t need any further approval from regional council, Fright said it raises concerns.
“I think it would be good for council to have a look first and just sort of know what they actually agreed to and have a chance to decide against it,” he said.
But he also said he thinks this whole situation just grew to become “one giant mistake.” The new councillors — who were elected in October — likely won’t force the city to back out of an accepted deal; the re-elected councillors likely won’t back out and admit to a mistake.
“It could just be one of those things that will just happen because it’s going to happen,” Fright said.
The Chronicle Herald reported that Coun. Lindell Smith, the councillor for the site’s area, said regional council hadn’t accepted an offer and was unsure where Fright heard about its sale. However, Smith admitted he could be wrong.
The sale was later confirmed by a municipal communications staff member who also said regional council approved of the sale.
The staff member said in early to mid-2020, significant site branding and social media communications was launched for the sale of the property.
By July 6, initial offers and bids were received and municipal staff accepted a conditional offer subject to council approval in late July. In September, council approved its acceptance of the offer and contract agreements, and the closing of the transaction was in process.
But Fright, who thoroughly reviews regional council’s minutes, said he hasn’t seen any debate about the Bloomfield Centre.
The only hint he’s heard about the site’s future was from a comment Coun. Waye Mason made about it being “an opportunity to capture significant density bonus funds.”
Due to that comment, Fright said he thinks a “massive tower” will be built with limited parking space.
Fright said he hasn’t bothered to contact Smith about the Bloomfield site sale because Smith doesn’t respond to anyone asking about the subject.
“I have spoken on this subject multiple times,” Smith said in an email. “I also have a statement on my website that may be helpful.”
Smith posted that statement back in October while rumours about the property’s sale were circulating. He said municipal staff were working with an undisclosed prospective buyer to determine if the sale’s conditions could be met.
Smith included these conditions in his post:
- A minimum of 10,000 square feet of commercial market space targeted to the creative industry
- A minimum of 20,000 square feet of affordable community and cultural space be included
- A minimum of 20 per cent of the site be reserved for as open space, both public and private
- That the Fielding Building be considered as the site for any cultural hub component
- That 10 per cent of the residential units on the site will be allocated to affordable housing
In response to the rumours in October about the sale, non-profit society Imagine Bloomfield started a petition to stop the property’s sale.
“We are asking HRM council to not agree to the current sale, revisit the community needs of the north end from a community perspective and do the right thing for the future of this neighbourhood,” says the petition.
With over 1,600 signatures, Fright said the organizers tried to submit the petition to Smith multiple times, but he wouldn’t respond.
Fright said the community is owed more information on the topic including who the buyer is, if and how the conditions of the sale have been met and the density bonuses.
“I guess the term that the kids use today is ‘ghosting’ where he just ghosted them and wouldn’t acknowledge a response,” Fright said. “So, I guess they can still submit it through the clerk’s office but is that really something our local representative should be doing?”